Orange County

Local Natives

It’s crazy to think, but it’s been almost a month since my last blog post and yet it honestly doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. I guess that’s what happens when you spend the fastest two weeks in the Coachella Valley working at your favorite and one of the most well-known music festivals in the world.

So yeah, I did it. I worked Coachella. It was amazing, special, wild, epic, unreal, and all sorts of other positive adjectives that you can think of. It was mostly indescribable though. I knew what to expect, but at the same time I didn’t at all. I can say though that experiencing Coachella in an entirely different way made me appreciate it so much more because it’s a first class, well-run music festival. I’m not gonna go into deep detail about my trip here. I will say that out of the bands I previewed I was able to see Kungs, Grouplove, Lorde, and Lady Gaga. If you wanna know more about my experience though, just ask.

Another thing I will mention is that I had a realization while at the festival during Saturday of Weekend 1. I definitely should have previewed Local Natives in the build-up to Coachella 2017. I was able to catch part of their set that Saturday before my shift started and I knew about 4 of the 5 songs I heard. I didn’t realize how many Local Natives songs I knew, but apparently I know a lot. I know enough that I feel like I need to go to one of their shows sometime. So I figured it was better late than never to write about them, so here goes…

Local Natives is an indie rock band from Los Angeles, CA. Members Kelcey Ayer, Ryan Hahn, and Taylor Rice all met while in high school together in neighboring Orange County, but it was after graduating college from UCLA that the group really started to focus on music. Along with Matt Frazier and former member Andy Hamm (replaced by Nik Ewing in 2012), the group moved into a house together in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles and began working on their first record, Gorilla Manor. The album was released in November 2009 in the UK and then in the U.S. in February 2010.

The band began generating some hype before the album’s release though. They played SXSW in 2009 which garnered attention from music critics. They received comparisons to well known indie bands, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, and Vampire Weekend, making them a new notable act on the indie scene.

On January 29, 2013 the band released their second album, Hummingbird. The album was produced by guitarist Aaron Dessner of The National and featured a darker lyrical turn due to life events, such as the departure of Andy Hamm and the death of Kelcey Ayer’s mother, that had influenced the band’s writing process. The album also received generally positive reviews.

Last year the band released their third and most recent album, Sunlit Youth, in September. The first single for the album, “Past Lives”, was released a few months before the album drop. The album, like it’s predecessor, received similarly favorable reviews.

Local Natives is your standard indie rock band. There’s no other genre that their music fits into. I can see why they were initially compared to the likes of those other well-known indie bands. Out of the three I mentioned above, their music sounds most similar to a combination of Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes. I think Vampire Weekend has more of an indie pop feel to their songs that isn’t heard as much with Local Natives. Another reassuring fact about Local Natives’ music is that the sound hasn’t changed much through three albums. Maybe the lyrical content has developed and changed, but you’re still getting that familiar Gorilla Manor sound on Sunlit Youth.

I first heard of Local Natives in the prime of my indie/hipster music transition phase in the spring of 2011. From then on, every so often I would add a new Local Natives song to my iTunes and playlist rotation. While on my first trip to California in 2013, I made it a point to go to Amoeba Music. Amoeba is the world’s largest independent record store. They have three locations in California, one in Berkeley (the original), one in San Francisco, and one in Hollywood, which is the one I went to. I, of course, wanted to get something at Amoeba, but traveling by plane made it difficult to purchase any vinyl so I opted for a CD. The CD I purchased was Hummingbird. Despite all this evidence, it never occurred to me that Local Natives should be a must-see for me at Coachella this year and a must among the list of bands I previewed. I didn’t even realize it after catching the end of their set at Lollapalooza last summer and realizing I knew every song I heard them play. I do now though and I won’t disregard them anymore. I plan on going to one of their shows next time they tour near me. They crushed it at Coachella and I don’t want to miss out anymore.

If you’re a big indie music follower and you don’t know of Local Natives, it’s time you do. They’re a great band to listen to if you’re just relaxing on quiet evening or if you’re driving on a road trip. It’s time to make these guys known or recognized whatever the case may be. Here’s a few songs you should check out.

  1. Airplanes
  2. Who Knows Who Cares
  3. Ceilings
  4. Heavy Feet
  5. Mt. Washington
  6. Past Lives
  7. Wide Eyes
  8. Dark Days
  9. We Come Back
  10. Sun Hands

California Here We Come

I’ve been such a slacker in the last week and half by not updating this blog. I’ve been busy though. It’s a busy time of the year. You know, Christmas time, when everyone does at least one thousand and one extra things besides all the things they do on a normal basis. Secondly, I haven’t been able to come up with a good subject matter for the next post (obviously I finally have but we’ll get to that).

I guess I could’ve taken the easy way out and wrote about Christmas music or Christmas movies, but I’ve been lacking Christmas spirit for the past 2 years. I’ve had no desire to watch A Christmas Story or listen to Bayside’s cover of Angels We Have Heard On High or anything like that. In fact I haven’t really had any desire to involve myself with anything Christmas-y until last night when I was wrapping gifts (I consider gift wrapping as something you have to do..it’s not really a choice unless you want your loved ones to hate you) and realized it was the first night of Hanukkah. Then I knew exactly what to write about. Christmas episodes. More specifically Chrismukkah. But even more specific than that, The OC.

Like any TV show I have fallen absolutely in love with, I started watching The OC during it’s second season. The first episode of Season 1 aired back in August of 2003, but I started watching it in 2004 and it’s been one of my all time favorite television shows ever since. I just made it sound like it’s still on, but it’s not. It lasted a total of four seasons ending in 2007. In my opinion and I’m sure other viewers can agree, the show really died after Season 3 along with one of its main characters (no spoilers…promise).

The OC was a drama set in Newport Beach, CA and followed the fictional lives of teenagers, Seth Cohen (Adam Brody), Ryan Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie), Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton), and Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson), and their affluent families through their interesting and eventful life challenges. That’s kind of a poor description of what the show’s about, but if I told you the show begins when lawyer, Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher) decides to help his teenage client who lived a pretty tough life growing up in Chino, CA (Ryan) by taking the boy in to live with him and his family in his huge home in Newport Beach then maybe you’d have a slightly better idea of the show. But maybe not, cause I really didn’t mention much about Seth, Marissa, and Summer.

Seth is Sandy’s nerdy, comic book/indie music loving son and eventually becomes like a brother to Ryan as he helps him adjust to his new school, with girls, and all the other fun that comes along with living with a well-off family in the OC. Marissa aka “Coop” (Summer’s nickname for her) lives next to the Cohens and becomes the love interest of Ryan shortly into the series, but she also has a multitude of issues in her own life which play a factor in their roller coaster of a relationship. Summer is the long-time crush of Seth and also Marissa’s best friend.

Now you’ve got a better idea of the whole thing, but if not you can always watch to find out more (wink wink). In general though the show covered all sorts of teen and life issues in it’s 4 seasons of existence, but it also had a yearly tradition of including what fans would look forward to around the holidays, a Chrismukkah episode. Chrismukkah was a hybrid holiday created by Seth that combined both¬† Christmas and Hanukkah and involved both sides of his family’s’ holiday traditions (Sandy was Jewish and Kirsten (Kelly Rowan), Seth’s mom, was Christian). To quote Seth’s description Chrismukkah is “eight days of presents followed by one day of many presents,” and it left fans, myself included, wanting to take part in this epic celebration. It was so epic that even though it’s been 8 years since the last Chrismukkah episode aired, I still wished I had another one to watch last night (first glimmer of any Christmas spirit this year for me). In fact, if I have time, I may even try to watch a Chrismukkah episode in the next few days.

Besides Chrismukkah, the OC was incredibly important to the indie music scene of the early 00’s. Along with soundtracks for each season which had indie songs that were featured on the show, it also included episodes where bands like, The Killers, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, The Subways, etc. played a few “live” sets at the local hangout/venue, The Bait Shop, which debuted in the second season. Plus, Seth was the coolest, nerdy, indie kid you’d ever want to meet, and I don’t think Phantom Planet ever had a better or more well-known song than “California” (the theme song for The OC). The show really did a lot for those bands and indie music from the exposure it gave. Although this post isn’t really about music, I do recommend checking out the track listing for The OC soundtracks and giving some of those songs a listen, especially “California” if you can’t already hum those all too familiar opening notes.

Along with Laguna Beach, The OC was one of my favorite television shows while in high school. It was actually one of the first shows I would watch religiously as new episodes came out every Thursday on Fox. And like Laguna Beach, it played a role in creating my desire to visit Southern California. It was the show that initially made me want to visit SoCal and then watching Laguna just added to it (naturally I visited Newport Beach on my trip to California last year as well).

It really is unfortunate that The OC ended when it did. To me it feels like something that was gone too soon, but I guess if you saw the 4th season you knew it was inevitable. Luckily I received the 4 seasons of The OC as Christmas gifts every year as they came out from my grandpa and I can watch the old episodes any time. I think they’re available on Netflix as well for anyone wanting to check it out. If not there, then I’m sure you can find them online somewhere. Since it’s one of my all time favorite shows I’m gonna have to say that you should check it out no matter what, but especially if you’re in the mood for some Christmas and Hanukkah themed entertainment in the next week or so (watch one of the Chrismukkah eps!). Captain Oats would want you to (if you don’t know who that is then you better watch the show). Anyway, Merry Chrismukkah from me and the Cohens and I’ll leave you with a wonderful description of the holiday from Season 1 by the man himself, Seth Cohen.

Let’s Go Back, Back to the Beginning

Something I learned recently is that reality TV is cheap and easy to make. We all know it’s not exactly “real” either. Despite this lack of quality, people still watch and have been doing so for quite some time. MTV (aka Music Television…yeah they don’t even play music anymore) has been one of the pioneers in reality TV with The Real World having been one of the first and most notable reality TV programs. Since The Real World, MTV created other reality shows that have impacted and continue to impact their viewers, myself included.

One of my favorite television shows while in high school was the MTV reality drama, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. This show was huge for me because, along with The OC (another show I watched at the time, set in Newport Beach, CA), it gave me an interest in Southern California and the lifestyles of the people who lived there. It did this so much so that last year when I visited my cousin in SoCal, a trip to Laguna Beach had to be a guaranteed part of the itinerary (you can bet I went to Laguna Surf & Sport…check out the pics at the bottom). I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in my interest either. If you watched Laguna, you definitely wished you lived there or could visit there at some point.

Laguna Beach followed a group of high school upperclassmen, mostly seniors, as it chronicled events during their last year of school which meant parties, bonfires, barbeques, concerts, fashion shows, a spring break trip to Cabo, prom, graduation, and leaving for college. The show was narrated by a senior girl named Lauren, aka “LC” (you know her now by the name¬†Lauren Conrad), but also included her best friend Lo, friends Morgan, the supposedly innocent one, and Christina, the preacher’s daughter, her long-time friend/crush/occasional friend with benefits Stephen, her guy friends and Stephen’s best buddies Trey and Dieter, Talon, the junior that all the girls seemed to have a thing with, and of course Stephen’s sort of girlfriend/the root of all LC’s drama, Kristin. In Laguna, the amount of drama was always at the forefront between all the hook-ups, relationships, talking behind people’s backs, and the rest of the high school bullshit you want to forget about after you graduate.

So why am I bringing up an MTV reality show that’s not even on TV anymore? Well firstly as I mentioned it was one of my favorite shows and I still watch old episodes from time to time especially from Season 1 (there were 3 and the first was the best). Secondly, Laguna Beach was a starting point for the careers of some of the main cast members. Lauren Conrad has taken the fashion world by storm and after starring in Laguna Beach, went on to film the MTV spinoff “The Hills” which lasted six seasons. She recently just married former Something Corporate guitarist William Tell (so cool…I was a huge SoCo fan back in those days too). Stephen Colletti went on to become an actor. You may have seen him in a few episodes (or 50 some) of “One Tree Hill”. Even Kristin Cavallari has had her fair share of moments in the spotlight while starring in “The Hills”, “Dancing with the Stars”, and is currently married to Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler with whom she has two children. From what I’ve heard the other cast members also seem to be doing well in their respective lives and careers.

Lastly and really the main reason I decided to blog about this show right now is because Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the show’s premiere on MTV. It’s crazy to think that it’s been that long since I watched Stephen and LC check out the property of LC’s unfinished, future home that overlooked all of Laguna while two palm trees were placed in the ground. It feels like just yesterday I was watching those kids ask each other to prom in the most extravagant, yet somewhat adorable ways (Yes children Laguna Beach did promposals before promposals were even a thing) or graduate from high school while Vitamin C’s “Graduation (Friends Forever)” played in the background. However in the past week I’ve seen posts all over the web about Laguna’s 10th anniversary so I know even after 10 years it’s evident that this show affected more than just me and the cast members. I’m not the only one who remembers that Kristin was the only person who wore white to the Black & White party or that Trey almost got in a fight with a midget after the Blink-182 concert or that Stephen dressed up as a bear and scared all the girls when they were camping at Catalina. It’s not just me who hears the name Stephen and can’t imagine it being said without really stressing the last syllable (cue the “Ste-PHEEEENNN”). I’m not alone in believing that Lauren and Stephen should’ve ended up together and was “stoked” to get the impression that maybe they would when he picked her up from the airport in San Fran before they started college, and I certainly can’t be the only person out there who still wants to know what happened with LC and Stephen that night in Cabo! They definitely didn’t just watch movies or whatever was said they did. Unfortunately, as we all know what happens in Cabo, stays in Cabo. Overall, it’s good to know that there’s a lot of people out there who loved this show just as much as me.

So thanks Laguna Beach for entertaining me in high school. Thanks for being part of the reason that started my love for California. But mostly thanks for still being pretty gnarly and memorable after 10 years. Now, like Kristin’s car, this blog post is so dunzo.

Laguna Beach

Check out that Laguna coastline.

LS&S

Stephen’s former place of employment.

LC's House

LC’s house overlooking Laguna from the first episode. Notice those palm trees.