Music

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!

Fruit Bangers

It’s not a secret that I make a new work out playlist every couple months. I’ve been doing this on Spotify since 2015-2016. My song selection is very simple. Sometimes one of my favorite artists releases new music and other times I’ll go through new music on my Release Radar or Discovery Weekly playlists and add songs that I like after my first listen and I feel are upbeat enough to work out to. Regardless, most times I’m not listening to a song repeatedly before I add it to my playlist. I’m usually going from new music or at least music that is new to me. This can cause me to occasionally find a song that I really really like after I keep hearing it day after day, which is exactly what happened two weeks ago.

While working out and listening to my first work out playlist of this year, I realized I really liked this one song I kept hearing. Until I realized what it was, I would constantly check to see the name of the song and the artist when it played. The song was called “Nectarines” by MELVV featuring Royal & The Serpent. Then it hit me. It’s only been a few months since I found another song I like about citrus fruit! Before “Nectarines” it was “Tangerine” by Glass Animals. In the summer, I found another guilty pleasure in listening to “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles. That’s a ton of fruit music in a short period of time!

I decided to start doing some research. Although it’s not super common, there are plenty of songs written that have food titles. Most of the songs aren’t really about food though. They’re usually metaphors for one thing or another, but even so, there are a solid amount of songs with food titles out there. “Chocolate” by the 1975, “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson, “Cherry Pie” by Warrant, and “Flaming Hot Cheetos” by Clairo are just a few of the food songs I thought of. I’m sure you know a few others. As I researched, I realized that there was also plenty of drink songs. There might be even more than there are for food. Some that I found and thought of are “Soco Amaretto Lime” by Brand New, “Beer” by Reel Big Fish, “Cola” and one of my personal faves “Diet Mountain Dew” by Lana Del Rey, “Poprocks and Coke” by Green Day which is kind of a food and drink song, “Strawberry Wine” by The Chicks, and then some of the most notable ones like “Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dog, “Tequila” by The Champs, and “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes (I counted it because it is in the parentheses and I mean come on!). I’m sure you could think of more as well, especially if you like country music (booze songs for days!).

When I started doing research on food songs, I was specifically searching for fruit songs though. I mean after two citrus bangers within months of each other, there had to be more right? Of course! I mentioned “Watermelon Sugar” earlier, which wasn’t Harry Styles’ first fruit song. “Kiwi” was on his debut album. “Peaches” by The Presidents of the United States of America was a hit too. “Raspberry” is a deep-cut by Grouplove. Besides drink songs, Lana Del Rey also has her own fruit track called “Cherry” and then Bay Ledges, whose song “Safe” was one of my top songs of 2018, has a song called “Mango”. There are other fruit songs out there too. It was just surprising to me that there have been so many that I’ve liked in a short period of time.

For now, instead of trying to find more fruit bangers, I’m just gonna keep jamming (fruit joke…get it?) to “Nectarines” and maybe soon enough there will be another fruit song I love. So here’s to all the fruit songs, the food songs, the drink songs, and even the songs that mention all of the above which is way more than I want to research. That shit would be bananas…B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

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.

Cover Songs

Yesterday my friend Bev and I got into a deep discussion about music covers. It was prompted by a video I shared with her where the background music was a cover of Talking Head’s “This Must Be The Place” by jam band, The String Cheese Incident. We delved into a deep discussion about her particular taste in covers, my taste in covers, and covers that would never do justice to the original artist or bands. I’m assuming everyone knows what a cover is but just in case you don’t, when someone says a song is a cover it means that the song is a recording or performance by someone who is not the original artist.

There have been plenty of cover songs throughout history that have become more successful than the original. A great example of this comes from legendary rock n’ roll singer Elvis Presley. “Blue Suede Shoes” was originally a song by Carl Perkins. Elvis also did plenty of Chuck Berry covers. Then of course there’s some controversy surrounding the song “Hound Dog”. Some claim that Elvis stole the song from Big Mama Thornton. Truth be told though when Elvis rose to fame racial prejudices were much greater than they are today. As a white singer, he brought many songs that may have been sung by or written by black musicians to fame. Hence, all of Elvis’s music being written by someone other than Elvis, which isn’t uncommon even today, but still.

Another example of this is “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles. The original song was by The Isley Brothers who are also famed for their song “Shout”. To be honest, I didn’t realize until today that “Twist and Shout” was a cover. I was looking for some covers on Spotify and saw it on one of their playlists. Part of me believes I knew this at one point and just forgot but the other part of me is kind of shocked.

Besides these songs a few other famous covers are Otis Redding’s “Respect” covered by Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” covered by Jimi Hendrix (Dave Matthews Band also frequents this cover too), Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” covered by Whitney Houston, Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” covered by The Chicks (formerly The Dixie Chicks), Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” covered by Jeff Buckley, The Guess Who’s “American Woman” covered by Lenny Kravitz, Robert Hazard’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” covered by Cyndi Lauper, and Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There’s also been some recent covers in the spotlight. Two years ago Weezer got some airplay from covering Toto’s “Africa” and lately an indie artist named Ritt Momney is getting some huge hype over his cover of “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae. The list goes way beyond this too. I’m sure you’d be surprised to know just how many famous songs are actually covers. I know I was.

My friend Bev seems to love covers that capture the essence of the original song especially when the original was by a well-known band or artist. What I think makes a great cover is when the song is given a new “spin” or feel like when an artist known for a certain genre of music covers a song of another genre. This is why I was always a fan of the Punk Goes… album series growing up.

These albums started in 2000 with Punk Goes Metal and by 2002 the first Punk Goes Pop album was released. Most of the Punk Goes… albums are cover songs aside from Punk Goes Acoustic which are just acoustic recordings of original songs. While hosting my own radio show in college, I would occasionally do cover shows where I played a lot of covers from these albums.

Although I don’t really listen to punk/pop-punk/alternative music these days, I’m always looking out for a great cover whether it does the original justice or not. I still love and appreciate hearing unique covers. However, strangely enough, I don’t usually love remixes, which I feel are electronic music’s version of a cover song. I have a few I enjoy, but in this instance I seem to enjoy the original version of the song more. I’m not sure if we could even consider these “covers”, but unless a deejay has someone else singing the track, how would they cover the song? I definitely think a remix is “sub-genre” or so of a cover for this reason.

If you’ve ever played an instrument or sang a song, you’ve probably played someone else’s music or sang someone else’s lyrics. It’s a pretty standard practice in music. But just be careful if you ever plan on officially releasing covers. There are copyright laws surrounding music, but thanks to the Copyright Act of 1909 we’re able to create covers (usually with some negotiations between the artists involved and ASCAP or BMI…I linked the act for more info). No matter what your preference is on cover songs, I bet you’ve heard plenty and even have a few favorites. I obviously do so I figured I’d share some of mine to end this post.

  1. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bon Iver (Bonnie Raitt cover)
  2. “99 Red Balloons” by Goldfinger (Nena cover)
  3. “Everywhere” by Yellowcard (Michelle Branch cover)
  4. “Umbrella” by All Time Low (Rihanna cover)
  5. “Megan” by Bayside (Smoking Popes cover)
  6. “Blitzkreig Bop” by Foster the People (Ramones cover) (performed live only, not recorded so check out a live version on Youtube)
  7. “That Don’t Impress Me Much” by HAIM (Shania Twain cover)
  8. “Skinny Love” by Birdy (Bon Iver cover)
  9. “Walking On A Dream” by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (Empire of the Sun cover)
  10. “Over My Head (Cable Car)” by A Day to Remember (The Fray cover)
  11. “Start Today” by Fall Out Boy (Gorilla Biscuits cover)
  12. “Mad World” by Gary Jules (Tears for Fears cover)
  13. “A Thousand Miles” by Mac DeMarco (Vanessa Carlton cover) (performed live only, not recorded so again check Youtube)
  14. “What I Like About You” by The Suicide Machines (The Romantics cover)
  15. “Hospital Beds” by Florence and the Machine (Cold War Kids cover)

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.

Dreamland: Album Review

After a month delay, Glass Animals latest record Dreamland is now out. The band was in the midst of a spring tour and had just started to release new singles when the music world got shut down by The Big C. In the build up to their album release, the band dropped several more singles as well as two cover songs in the midst of quarantine. The album was supposed to be released on July 10th, but two weeks before that, the group decided to push back the release to August 7th in light of current events involving the protesting for Black Lives Matter. Now that it’s finally August, and a few days after the 7th, Dreamland is here in its entirety. Let’s check it out.

The latest record brings the same chill indie electronic vibes that Glass Animals are known for so you don’t have to worry about this record sounding any different. The lyrics still bring in the unique language that Glass Animals have used in prior music too (i.e. “those peanut butter vibes” from “Gooey”). The difference in this album is that it’s like a book. Each song feels like a chapter in the story of front man and producer Dave Bayley’s life. The home movie interludes adds to that feel as well. In this way Dreamland is a well-themed record compared to Glass Animals’ first two releases.

Glass Animals have plenty of great songs in their discography but I think their new song “Heat Waves”, which was released around the same time the band announced the delay of their album, is their best song to date. It’s also a front runner for my favorite song of the year. I absolutely love it. It was one of those songs that I fell hard for when I heard it for the first time and it’s still a song that I’m constantly replaying. Several of my friends have said as much about this song too. It’s truly a banger and worth a listen even if you’re not a Glass Animals fan. It’s a likeable song in general.

The new album also features several other great tracks like “Space Ghost Coast to Coast”, which gives a lyrical nod to the 90’s, “Dejá Vu”, another banger and one of their singles released in anticipation of the album, “Tokyo Drifting” featuring Denzel Curry, and “Tangerine.”

I’m sure Glass Animals would be touring and playing festivals this year if it weren’t for The Big C. Look for them to hit the road once its safe and we can listen to live music with all our friends again. I know I will be doing that since I just missed the train on this band during their last big touring year. Until then, you have plenty of time to get into this new new album.

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.