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Coachella 2023 Lineup Review

10 days into January and the Coachella lineup has dropped. After balloons in the sky showed up in LA and NY and Coachella billboards popped up in cities worldwide last week, we knew the drop was coming at any moment. Shortly after 3 PM EST/12 PM PST yesterday, the 2023 Coachella lineup dropped. At the moment of the release, I was about to start a team meeting and I dropped to my knee with joy exclaiming, “The Coachella lineup just dropped!” I can’t say I remember much from our meeting as I was distracted the entire time. I also can’t say I’m surprised or impressed with this year’s mix of artists.

I feel like every year since I’ve started this blog has been an ongoing trend of the lineup getting worse and worse. This year feels like it takes the trash cake for me. For the first time since I started being interested in Coachella, there’s no standout act for me. There’s no top artist. It’s just a handful of artists I barely listen to. I could go on about it generally or talk about it in depth so here it is, the Coachella 2023 Lineup:

The Headliners: Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, Frank Ocean, Calvin Harris

The true headliners based on the poster are Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, and Frank Ocean. I included Calvin Harris based on his solo poster spot because we all know he’s going to be a headliner. Frank Ocean was scheduled to play in 2020 and of course the covo ruined it all. In the months that followed the inevitable 2020 cancellation, news of Frank skipping 2022 and playing 2023 circulated. Frank Ocean last played Coachella in 2012 so his highly anticipated return is very overdue. Calvin Harris was also scheduled to play 2020 as the first name under Friday night headliner Rage Against the Machine. His last time playing the festival was 2016. Meanwhile both Bad Bunny and BLACKPINK played in 2019 as highly billed acts with BLACKPINK playing an 8:00 p.m. set at Sahara on Friday night and Bad Bunny playing the main stage at sunset Sunday. These headlining performances for both acts will mark Coachella firsts as BLACKPINK will be the first K-pop group to headline the festival and Bad Bunny will be the first Latin artist to headline.

Am I excited? Not really. If I see anyone, it’ll be Calvin Harris. I don’t know a single song by any of the other artists. I’m not into Latin music. I may or may not enjoy some K-pop because I had a friend obsessed with BTS a few years ago and Frank Ocean just hasn’t ever hit for me. However, I might give him a second chance because he doesn’t often perform. Generally though, I’m disappointed with this selection, but it seems to be what’s in right now and Coachella has always set the bar with that.

The Other Highly Billed Performers: Despacio, Gorillaz, Burna Boy, the Chemical Brothers, Kaytranada, Blondie, Becky G, Metro Boomin, FKJ, Pusha T, Tobe Nwigwe, Wet Leg, SG Lewis, Yves Tumor, the Garden, TESTPILOT, Angèle, MUNA, Maceo Plex, ROSALÍA, Eric Pyrdz presents HOLO, boygenius, $uicideboy$, the Kid LAROI, Charli XCX, Labrinth, Underworld, Diljit Dosanjh, Eladio Carrión, SOFI TUKKER, Remi Wolf, Chromeo, Tale Of Us, Yung Lean, Mura Masa, Yaeji, 070 Shake, Björk, Kali Uchis, Porter Robinson, Fisher + Chris Lake, A Boogie, Dominic Fike, Jai Paul, Jackson Wang, Latto, the Blaze, Willow, GloRilla, Jai Wolf, Boris Brejcha, 2manydjs, Christine and the Queens, Rae Sremmurd

This mix of big names is where you’ll find all the legacy acts with names like the Chemical Brothers, who last played in 1999, the first year of the festival, Blondie, and Björk, who was the first female artist to headline Coachella. There’s a few names in this list that I listen to occasionally who I plan to check out at the festival. I can’t help but be excited about this small group of legendary artists, but I can’t hype myself too much because Blondie and the Chemical Brothers both play Friday night and I work until 8 p.m. From this list, I’m most excited that LCD Soundsystem frontman, James Murphy, will be playing with his side project Despacio all weekend according to the poster. Another notable from this mix for me is indie rock supergroup, boygenius, composed of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus. They don’t often perform together so this should be a special one in Indio. Alternative rock band Gorillaz, who last played the festival when they headlined in 2010, will be fun to check out as well. I’ll also probably want to check out Wet Leg, MUNA, Chromeo, Remi Wolf, Porter Robinson, and Jai Wolf if I get the chance too. I’m sure I’ll discover other indie/alternative rock or electronic artists to listen to in this mix but for now, these are the names that stick out.

The Undercards: Two Friends, YUNGBLUD, Jamie Jones, Ashnikko, Malaa, TV Girl, Whyte Fang, Doechii, BENEE, Idris Elba, Magdalena Bay, Vintage Culture, Domi & JD Beck, Dombresky, DannyLux, Nora En Pure, Overmono, Uncle Waffles, ¿Téo?, Mochakk, Gabriels, Saba, Dennis Cruz + PAWSA, Soul Glo, Lava La Rue, Sleaford Mods, the Comet is Coming, Oliver Koletzki, Kyle Watson, the Murder Capital, Chris Stussy, Jupiter & Okwess, Lewis OfMan, Juliet Mendoza, Desert Cahuilla Bird Singers, Marc Rebillet, Hiatus Kaiyote, Dinner Party, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Elderbrook, Kenny Beats, Flo Milli, Keinemusik, Snail Mail, Rebelution, Hot Since 82, EARTHGANG, UMI, Shenseea, the Breeders, Monolink, Ethel Cain, Bakar, Donavan’s Yard, the Linda Lindas, Sunset Rollercoaster, NIA ARCHIVES, Jan Blomqvist, DRAMA, WhoMadeWho, Destroy Boys, Elyanna, DJ Tennis, Carlita, AG Club, Mathame, BRATTY, Horsegirl, Colyn, Chloé Caillet, Scowl, Francis Mercier, Weyes Blood, Alex G, DPR LIVE + DPR IAN, Stick Figure, Adam Beyer, Big Wild, MK, Cannons, Romy, Gordo, Fousheé, Noname, Sasha & John Digweed, Sudan Archives, Knocked Loose, Camelphat, IDK, Sasha Alex Sloan, Mareux, 1999.ODDS, Pi’erre Bourne, Cassian, Joy Crookes, TSHA, El Michels Affair, Paris Texas, LP Giobbi, Momma, Ali Sethi, Minus the Light, Los Bitchos, Conexión Divina, Airrica

The undercards this year have a handful of names I’d like to see, such as YUNGBLUD, who was scheduled to play in 2020. I missed him at ACL this past fall and I like a few of his songs so I would love to check out his Coachella set. I’ve listened to electronic artists, Two Friends, here and there as well and hope I can catch their performance. However, it’s another Friday set and everything Friday will be TBD for me until the set times get released. I think out of all the artists playing this year I actually listen to Elderbrook the most. I’ll likely want to check out Alex G too. I started getting in to him in anticipation of his 2020 appearance, but that was short lived. Big Wild, MK, and Sasha Alex Sloan are a few other artists I’d like to catch as well.

Coachella has always been ahead of the game when it comes to new music and pushing a multitude of genres. Unfortunately for me, the kind of music I listen to isn’t what’s hot these days. Like I’ve mentioned in years past, Coachella has become a place of music discovery for me. I wish I could hear a ton of bands I already love and listen to, but this does help me stay fresh. I usually have a few acts that I love. This year though Paul missed the mark for me. I’m still incredibly excited. Even when the lineup isn’t great, it’s still great. It’s Coachella. It can’t be bad. The vibes are always immaculate. There will be surprises, guest appearances, and celebs for days. I think the fashion faded away from flower crowns, but we’ll certainly see the finest in festival fashion come April. I can’t wait to be out there. Until then, look forward to weekly blog posts previewing all these bands I just mentioned. Happy Coachella season everyone! Let’s get back to the desert!

2022 Music Wrap

Another year is coming to a close, which means I’m here to tell you about all my favorites in music from 2022. This is just me talking about my favorite bands, songs, and albums from the last year. These have all defined my year in music, aside from, of course, concerts and festival sets. I included those last year since I went 15 months without any of it. This year though we’re back to the original recap post with all my faves in no particular order. So let’s get to it…

Wallows

There’s nothing and no one on this list that defines my year more than Wallows. It started Weekend 1 of Coachella when I was mesmerized by their mid-afternoon Outdoor Theatre set and continued non-stop for the next 4 months. It kept going beyond that too but in a less obsessive way. Coachella has always been known for getting me into bands. The festival’s 2022 return gave me that again with Wallows. After catching both weekend’s Coachella sets, I acquired every single hard form of their music on either CD or record. I saw them perform live 4 more times after both Coachella sets, including 2 concerts and 2 other festival sets, Bonnaroo being my most favorite of all. It took a while for Wallows to hit for me, as I tried getting into them 5 years earlier, but sometimes all it takes is the power of live music. I have so many favorite Wallows songs, but “Pictures of Girls” will forever be my go to. Their most recent album Tell Me That It’s Over also played a huge part in my Wallows era as well as select songs like “OK”, “Talk Like That”, “I’m Full”, and “Treacherous Doctor” from the Remote and Remote (Deluxe) EPs and their debut album Nothing Happens. Their single “Pulling Leaves Off Trees” was another favorite from my 4 month Wallows binge. I might have been able to go through this year without a band like Wallows, but I’m glad I got into them and love them moving forward.

Being Funny In A Foreign Language

Released in October, the 1975’s 5th full length album became a big part of my end of the year. I went to Nashville specifically to see them tour in support of this album and it was my first time ever seeing them play in concert (every other time was a festival set). Then Matty Healy started blowing up on social media in early December causing even more focus on the 1975 (Don’t like menthols!) and more focus for me on them and their latest album. Being Funny In A Foreign Language also has two songs that are low key Christmas/December-ish songs that really hit in the last two months of the year. I’ve been listening to the album so much over the last few weeks, including “Wintering” non-stop on December 23rd (IYKYK). I’ve realized top to bottom this is probably their second best album next to their debut self-titled. Although I haven’t had as much time to listen to it, this is one of my favorite albums released in 2022.

Goth Babe

Back in May, I worked EDC Las Vegas with my friend Erin and she kept telling me how good Goth Babe was. After listening to a song or two and agreeing with her opinions, I added a few songs to my Spotify playlist I was listening to at the time. There was even some discussion between us about seeing him perform a Lollapalooza aftershow. It sold out too fast but we caught his set together at Lolla and then with some of our other friends, got tickets to instead see him play an ACL late night show during Weekend 1. That’s when I dove head first into Goth Babe and got into his music. “Canary Islands” will always be my go-to, but “Casita” was a vibe during my drives to the fall beach festivals I worked. Thanks to Erin for this one as I definitely found a new artist I’m really into.

The Maine

Is it 2007? It certainly felt like it in early 2022 when I told my friend Hailey I would go see her favorite band, the Maine, with her and her friends for her birthday in March. The Maine was never a band I listened to much during the scene era of the late 00’s-early 2010’s. “The Way We Talk” and their cover of Akon’s “I Wanna Love You” was all I knew. Then Hailey re-introduced me to her favorite guys from Phoenix, Arizona and I became a lover of “Sticky”, “Black Butterflies and Deja Vú”, and “Dirty, Pretty, Beautiful”. The song that really got me hooked again though was their 2022 release “Loved You a Little” featuring Adam Lazzara from Taking Back Sunday and Charlotte Sands. The song would have hit just as hard in 2007 as it did this year. Then I saw them live for the first time. They were great and the show was so fun that I decided to see them again exactly 6 months later with the same March crew (plus a few others) when I had some unexpected free time after a festival cancellation in late September. I think I might have missed out all these years when it comes to the Maine, or there’s just something special about seeing your friends’ favorite bands with them and I don’t know if it would feel the same otherwise.

“Heart Out” -The 1975

Mexico 2022 really sucked a lot of life out of me. There were so many things about this past year’s Mexico run that were more difficult than usual and other personal things that just aided to that. When I got back from Mexico in early March I wasn’t in the best spirits, despite being a month away from my favorite music festival for the first time in 3 years. My friend Hailey flew in to Philly for a work trip for a night during that time and wanted to hang. Although I wasn’t really feeling it, I knew I didn’t want to bail on her so we hung out for a few hours, went out to dinner, grabbed drinks, and walked around the city for a bit. We were looking for something to do and walked past a Hard Rock Café as the song “Heart Out” by the 1975 played loudly. For the first time in a few weeks, that song and both spending time with and having fun with my friend hyped me up. I suggested we could just dance outside the Hard Rock Café all night since they were clearly playing bops. After that night, I started listening to “Heart Out” at random times the rest of the month. I added it to my workout playlist too. Who knew that even before the 1975 started teasing BFIAFL I would be vibing to one of their old songs. This year gave me a second coming of “Heart Out.” It was so much so that I was truly disappointed it wasn’t included on their fall tour set list, especially the show that Hailey and I attended together.

“I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” -Jamie xx

2022 brought back Coachella into my life and I will forever be grateful for being able to be back on the polo fields this past year. When the lineup dropped in early January, I made a playlist with songs from artists I was interested in seeing as I typically do. Jamie xx’s “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” was one of the songs. This song set all of my anticipation for the festival. After a 3 year wait, I knew it was gonna be a good time. It was just finally making it back there that was in question as it had been since 2020. I listened to this song so much leading up to those 2 weeks in April and even during the event until I saw Jamie xx’s Weekend 2 set with many of my coworkers. He didn’t even end up playing the song during the set either (he did Weekend 1 though!). Nonetheless, it still set the mood from January to April for me.

“This Is Why” -Paramore

Paramore made their way back into the music world this year for the first time since 2018 when they announced fall tour dates including a stop at Austin City Limits. With a new album slated for February 2023, the group released their first single, “This Is Why” in late September, a week before their ACL appearance and right before their tour began. I was at Oceans Calling Festival when I first heard the song. The festival got cancelled a day later and I spent most of the weekend at home anticipating ACL. It wasn’t until Weekend 1 when I realized how excited my friends and coworkers were for Paramore’s set that I started getting into Paramore for the first time in my life. Paramore never resonated with me during high school when alternative/emo music was at the forefront of my music interests, aside from, of course, “Misery Business,” which front woman, Hayley Williams, was intent on retiring in 2018. However, seeing our friend Kristen see Paramore became ACL goals and our team started singing “This Is Why” nonstop by Weekend 2. I got to see Paramore with a large group from my team during Weekend 2 and I have to say I enjoyed it more than when I saw them perform at Warped Tour back in the day. I feel like I have more interest in Paramore now and I’m even excited to see what the new album sounds like.

Uncanny Valley

I decided to embrace my interest in COIN this year. I’d listened to random songs by the band here and there since 2016, until finally I knew that I should go see them when they were on tour this past summer in support of their new album Uncanny Valley. I already fell in love with the song “Chapstick” late last year. Then got into “Killing Me” in the spring months. I bought tickets for their Philly tour date and also caught their Bonnaroo set. They were great live and played a handful of songs that I liked but didn’t know. I decided to purchase the new album at their show and I listened to it non-stop for several weeks. Although there were plenty of great new album releases this year, Uncanny Valley was another one that stood out for me. I didn’t even review it for the blog because at the time of its release I still hadn’t had the realization of how much I enjoyed COIN. Safe to say I’m probably going to be reviewing their new albums from now on.

“Hot Girl Bummer” -blackbear

In July, I spent a week in Fort Lauderdale while working Rolling Loud Miami. It was insanely hot and humid. It was the week I decided to go all in on 6 weeks in a row of fall festivals. It was also the week I was introduced to the 2019 blackbear song “Hot Girl Bummer.” My friend Hailey uses it as a hype track to get her in the mood for going out. I started using it as a work out song in addition to that. It was a song that I played on repeat into August and would constantly hear every night when I lifted, ran, or rode my stationary bike. Despite how often I listened to Wallows, it became one of my 2022 most listened to tracks as it even reached the number 6 spot on my Spotify wrapped, which is why it’ll go down as a hot girl bummer anthem for this year.

“new body rhumba” -LCD Soundsystem

This past fall one of my favorite bands, LCD Soundsystem, released their first new song in 5 years with “new body rhumba.” They made it for the film White Noise. I immediately loved it the first time I heard it. It’s an absolute banger and a song I didn’t expect after having to grow to enjoy their last album American Dream. With the new song came an announcement of another holiday run of shows in Brooklyn and the opportunity to see them live again. To make a long story short, I ended up with tickets to 2 consecutive nights of their 20 show run and got to hear them perform this hit live twice. I danced hard each night and can’t wait for the chance to hear them play it again. I’m sure I’ll be listening to it much more until then.

Honorable Mentions:

“Victory Dance” -My Morning Jacket

As I mentioned before, my time in Mexico this past year ended in early March. I cut my run a few days short so I could experience an event at my local ski resort and with that came a shortened stay during My Morning Jacket’s One Big Holiday. My friend Amanda was even attending and we had about 12 hours together before I returned home. The 12 hours included the first night of music during the all-inclusive beach festival and the first MMJ set. I didn’t expect to enjoy it much, as I had heard MMJ play before and was not impressed, but I wanted to spend time with Amanda while we were both in Mexico together. Maybe it was seeing them with her, seeing them on the beach, or even just the fact that I had made it through the longest two months south of the boarder, but it was one of my favorite nights of my time there. The moment that it all came together for me was when the song “Victory Dance” started. We were right in the center of the crowd and everyone was so into the song, including my friend Amanda, her best friend Lindsey, and Lindsey’s husband Fede. It was a special moment that carried on with me. I played the song to hype me up for the next week or two and even put the song on my skiing playlist so I could listen to it while cruising down mountains.

“King Kunta” -Kendrick Lamar

“Hot Girl Bummer” wasn’t the only song I got into at Rolling Loud Miami. The last night of the festival I followed Hailey and my other coworker Jackie in to catch Kendrick Lamar’s set. I tried my best to get into it even though I only knew one of his songs. When Kendrick played the song “King Kunta” though, I was really into it. I said to them several times during the song how much I enjoyed it. At the time I didn’t even know the name, but I requested it be played multiple times on the way home from the festival that evening. I downloaded it on Spotify that night and played it nonstop on my way to Chicago for Lollapalooza the next day. I even requested it be played during a code red at Lolla at few days later. I was so into this 2015 song for several weeks and I still bop along any time I hear it now.

Lauren Sanderson

Thanks to Megan Finnerty I’ll always associate 2022 with the year I got into Lauren Sanderson. Megan obsessed over Lauren and her tour announcement for weeks while we were in Mexico. That was when I really started listening to the LGBTQ icon and her songs “Bathroom Stall in Seattle,” “17”, “But I Like It,” and “Thirsty.” She also released a new album, Death of a Fantasy, this year and singles like her G-Flip collab “GAY 4 ME,” “WET,” and most recently “better than your bf” this past month. Megan and I also attended a Lauren Sanderson concert together in May. I’m sure it won’t be our last either as my interest in Lauren will likely carry beyond this year.

The Jungle Giants

This year my friend Noah began hyping The Jungle Giants to me. At the time I didn’t realize it, but I had unknowingly listened to them years earlier. Nonetheless, Noah told me I would love them, and he was right. I listened to a song or two of theirs, but really dived head first into them when we decided in August that we would attend their Philly show together in November. I listened to them a lot this fall in anticipation of the show. It was one of the smallest shows I attended this year and also one of the most fun. We danced the entire time and met the band afterwards. That night an intoxicated Noah told me the next time we would see The Jungle Giants was at an arena. I’m not sure if he’s right about that but I know I’ll definitely want to see them again where ever it may be.

Sonder

Dermot Kennedy released his second full length album Sonder in late November and I spent the week before Thanksgiving immersing myself in it. As stated in my album review, it’s a great follow up to his debut. However I haven’t spent the same amount of time listening to it yet, which is why I can only give it an honorable mention thus far. I know I’ll be listening to it way more in the coming months as I have pit tickets for his upcoming tour this spring.

“Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)” -Arcade Fire

For a week or two in May, following the release of their album, WE, I couldn’t stop listening to the song “Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)” by Arcade Fire. It was the one track on the album that really hit for me. The song reminded me of my little cousin and best friend, Hudson, who I hadn’t in seen in two months and wouldn’t see for another two. It’s a great song that helped me feel connected to him in that brief time.

So that’s my list for 2022. It’s wild how each year brings new music or old music that feels new into our lives. As someone who loves music and works in live music and events as a profession, I guess that’s something that always keeps happening for me. I’m excited for what 2023 will give me, which likely starts with the Coachella lineup. I can’t believe we’re at that time again, where I’ll be posting weekly previews of Coachella artists. Here’s to hoping this lineup will go back to its roots and bring a high volume of indie rock artists I’ve been missing the last several years. However, I guess I’m grateful that the lack of artists in that genre has really pushed me to focus on the few that do exist, like Wallows for example, who became one of my favorite bands during the last 9 months. Here’s to also hoping 2023 brings me more bands and artists that I fall in love with and more incredible experiences surrounding music with the people I love the most.

Sonder: Album Review

After some delays, Dermot Kennedy released his sophomore album Sonder on Friday. It’s been a 3 year wait since Kennedy’s debut album, but not a tough one for fans. Over the last 3 years, he’s released several singles that have made their way on to the new album. Sonder picks up where Without Fear left off musically. It’s got several bops and plenty of songs that are so painstakingly beautiful that may damage you if you’ve ever had feelings.

Sonder is a quality pop record with hints of hip-hop on a few tracks similar to Kennedy’s last release. It’s a style of pop with such powerful vocals where you can hear his Irish accent in every song. Honestly his music hits you deeply to the core and this album has that and everything else you’ve already loved about Dermot Kennedy. “Innocence and Sadness”, “Any Love”, and “Already Gone”, are some of those deeply aching songs for me. I’ve been jamming to hits like “Something to Someone”and “Kiss Me” over the course of this year and then “Divide” and “Homeward” since the album dropped. “Better Days” was released last year as a hopeful song when the world was in such a dark place due to the ever existing panny d. He has even said how much joy it brings him performing that song live now.

Speaking of live shows, Dermot Kennedy will be embarking on the Sonder Tour next year. He has a few shows before the end of this year then starts the European leg of the tour in March. He begins his American dates in May. I already have tickets. This was the first time I was willing to drop significant money on him too. I’ve seen him 4 times and almost all have been for free. Dermot Kennedy was my favorite find of Coachella 2019. His concert in February 2020 ended up being my last show for a good 15 months and I was stoked to be able to see him twice last year at Lollapalooza and ACL after the whole ordeal. Finally though, it was time for me to admit that I’m a fan and go all in on tickets. This Sonder tour is going to be an epic celebration of this beautiful new album.

Stay Present

Last July I worked my first Lollapalooza in 3 years. The Lolla lineup from 2016-2019 was my favorite of the year, but in 2021 that changed. I felt like I only knew a handful of artists. I went from knowing acts all over the lineup to only knowing the headliners and a couple of the other big names. The undercards were unrecognizable. Fortunately, thanks to a couple of friends I got to know a few of those up and coming artists. One of them was Lauren Sanderson, who my friend Megan is obsessed with.

Lauren Sanderson, who hails from Los Angeles but, originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, began her music career on Youtube and SoundCloud. She originally started her channel as a motivational speaker, but then grew into music with rapping and poetry on her channel. After posting her cover of Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved,” she started gaining attention. She released her first EP Center of Expression in 2016 and her second EP Spaces in 2017. Spaces garnered her Billboard attention which lead to her record deal with Epic Records. In 2018, she debuted her first major label EP DON’T PANIC!.

In 2019 she left Epic Records and signed a one album deal with Young Forever. Her debut album Midwest Kids Can Make It Big was released in January 2020. She had a tour planned for that year, but like everything else, it was then rescheduled for 2021. Since live music made its return last year, Lauren has been touring and releasing music independently with a new album on the way.

Lauren Sanderson’s music is primarily pop with a mix of hip hop and alternative styles. Her music has a seductive edge to it at times as well, especially with songs like “But I Like It” and most recently with the release “Gay 4 Me.” Lauren Sanderson also has a huge presence in the LGBTQ+ community as a queer artist and has many gay themes in her music too.

Back at Lollapalooza, I was introduced to Lauren Sanderson because Megan had tickets to her aftershow and was stoked to see her perform. Lauren ended up cancelling all of her Lolla performances due to getting the covo. It wasn’t until a few months later that I realized I should listen to Lauren and so Megan began recommending some of her favorite songs like “17” and “Bathroom Stall in Seattle”, which are now some of my favorites as well.

I’ve been digging her music since I started listening. I even committed to seeing her live when she announced tour dates this past winter. After getting tickets a few months ago, I went with Megan last Monday to see her show and loved it. It was cool to see her perform in a small venue. She attracts a passionate and largely LGBTQ+ audience who went hard the entire time. I honestly felt like an outlier cause I didn’t know every word to every song. It was still fun though and it’s always a blast to witness my friends enjoy their favorite bands or artists. As I mentioned, Lauren has a new album on the way and likely more touring plans in the works. You should really start listening to her now, because there’s a good chance she might not be playing small venues for long. She’s got so many bops and I’m glad my pal was obsessed enough to share them and her with me.

Give Me the Future: Album Review

In February, while I was solely focused on writing Coachella Band Previews, several of my favorite bands dropped some new albums and I neglected to review them. The first of those was Bastille. On February 4th, Bastille released Give Me the Future. They dropped several tracks during 2021 in anticipation of the new album. Give Me the Future is Bastille’s fourth full length album and their latest since 2019.

Bastille is a band that has such a defining sound from Dan Smith’s smooth vocals. Their sound has always been a welcome consistency for me. That consistency lacks for a handful of artists so it’s nice when it exists. I will say the sound on the new album incorporates this modern, tech-y, futuristic style sound that is unique to other Bastille records, but it’s just enough to make their album sound different without making them sound different. A perfect example of this is “Plug In…” or “Back to the Future.” The theme of the album has such a deep, meaningful nature with the lyrical content too. The band credits that to the wild turn the world took in 2020 with the pandemic and what came from it.

As much as I always enjoy the music Bastille puts out, I have to say this album as a whole didn’t really do much for me. There’s a few songs I enjoy like “Shut Off the Lights” and “No Bad Days,” but overall as a whole it hasn’t really stuck out. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for the new tunes, many of which I heard over the last year before the whole album came out! Maybe that’s part of the reason why I haven’t felt as hype about it. Many of the songs I like came out before the album release. The ones I hadn’t heard yet didn’t really stick out. That could be it. I feel like I’m being picky about it. As a fan of Bastille and indie pop though, I still say it’s worth listening to and something you should decide on for yourself.

Coachella Band Preview: Lost Kings, Flume, Emo Nite, Maggie Rogers, & Hayden James

In exactly one month, the 21st installment of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival begins in Indio, California at the Empire Polo Club, 81-800 Avenue 51. It’s all come down to this. One month left in the almost 36 month wait, once all is said and done. Since I returned from Mexico, I’ve been listening to my Coachella 2022 playlist almost every day. Over the last several Coachellas since I attended in 2015, the lineup has strayed away from my music interests. What was once a largely indie rock festival now spans across genres. My music interests have developed as well. I mean I was someone who never step foot in the Sahara tent in 2015. Coachella has become a festival of music discovery for me. There’s usually a good handful of artists I know and at least listen to on the lineup, but in recent years I’ve felt like I’ve used Coachella to become more interested in artists I don’t listen to as much or to discover new artists entirely. It’s broadened my interest in Arkells, Kungs, Maggie Rogers, and Petit Biscuit, and has helped me to discover artists like Dermot Kennedy, Daft Punk (Couchella 2020 was a thing!), and Dillon Francis. This week though I’m highlighting a bunch of artists and one style of music I’ve known and have liked for a while.

The first artists on this list are Lost Kings, the electronic music duo who have been releasing music since 2014. I previewed them as part of the 2020 lineup before shit hit the fan, so you can check out that blog here for more info about the electronic deejays. Since 2020, they released a new EP It’s Not You, It’s Me in December 2021. The EP contains all of their singles released over 2020 & 2021. Lost Kings play Friday to kick off the weekend and I’ll bet you’ll catch them and their progressive house style music sometime in the afternoon at the Sahara tent. These are some of the songs you’ll wanna know before you catch their set:

  1. Phone Down
  2. Oops (I’m Sorry)
  3. When We Were Young
  4. Don’t Kill My High
  5. First Love
  6. Anti-Everything
  7. You
  8. Stuck
  9. Look At Us Now
  10. Don’t Call

Flume is no stranger to this blog. Since 2016, I’ve considered Flume one of my favorite electronic artists. In fact, Flume, also known as Harley Streton, was the first deejay to get me into electronic music. I may have liked a song or two before that point, but I really found an interest in most of Flume’s music after listening to some of his tracks before volunteering at and attending Sweetlife Music Festival in 2016. Flume was also supposed to play Coachella in 2020. Read that preview here. It would have been his third appearance, but thankfully he’s back on the lineup in 2022 and will be making his third appearance this year instead. Prior to what would have been Coachella 2020, Flume released his track “The Difference” ft. Toro y Moi. He’s dropped a few remixes since, but released a brand new single, “Say Nothing” ft. MAY-A, a few weeks ago. Flume will be dropping a new album, Palaces, in May and I anticipate Coachella will probably get some new tunes as a result. Flume plays Saturday night and I would suspect he’ll be moving to the Main Stage this time around. His 2016 set was at Outdoor Theatre. These are the Flume songs you should be listening to so you’re ready for Saturday night in Indio:

  1. The Difference
  2. Say Nothing
  3. Rushing Back
  4. Never Be Like You
  5. Say It
  6. Holdin’ On
  7. Sleepless
  8. Drop the Game
  9. Insane
  10. Smoke & Retribution

When the 2020 lineup came out, I was both stoked and intrigued to see Emo Nite listed as an act for the festival. For someone who grew up listening to emo bands and who has attended a few emo nights, I’ve never actually been to the official Emo Nite that started them all. I’m excited to finally see what this is all about at Coachella and who makes an appearance at the festival. Here is the Emo Nite preview I wrote in 2020. Emo Nite is slated for Saturday at Coachella 2022. I would anticipate it to be at one of the smaller stages like Gobi or Mojave. It may even be at Sonora, which would would be the perfect setting for Emo Nite as an all enclosed air conditioned space where everyone can mosh freely. Although it’s kind of tough to prepare for Emo Nite because there’s tons of emo music, here are a few staples that have a good chance of being played:

  1. I’m Not Okay (I Promise) -My Chemical Romance
  2. Dear Maria, Count Me In -All Time Low
  3. Misery Business -Paramore
  4. I Write Sins Not Tragedies -Panic! At the Disco
  5. Sugar We’re Going Down -Fall Out Boy
  6. The Best of Me -The Starting Line
  7. Ocean Avenue -Yellowcard
  8. MakeDamnSure -Taking Back Sunday
  9. Hands Down -Dashboard Confessional
  10. The Great Escape -Boys Like Girls

Coachella 2019 was the first time I saw Maggie Rogers perform. Honestly, I haven’t seen her since, but I’ve continued to listen to her since the last Coachella, one of my favorite festival experiences to date. Maggie Rogers was a small part of that because of her song “Back in My Body.” I became obsessed with the song while I was in Indio for three weeks and it was so cool to see her perform it live. The song now reminds me of that time in my life and working/being at Coachella. Since my preview of Maggie Rogers for the 2019 festival, she has released a new single, “Loved You For A Long Time,” and an album of old recordings, Notes from the Archives: Recordings 2011-2016. She’s recently been dropping mixtape EP’s with songs from both albums. A few weeks ago she reported that her latest album is done, but there’s no set release date as of yet. This makes me think she’ll be debuting a new song or two at Coachella. Maggie Rogers plays Sunday and I’ll be damned if she doesn’t play a sunset set at Main Stage or Outdoor Theatre. She played the Mojave tent in 2019 and it was far too small. I expect her to move up to a bigger stage just as her name moved up on the lineup. Here’s some Maggie Rogers songs you’ll want to know beforehand:

  1. Alaska
  2. Love You For A Long Time
  3. Light On
  4. Fallingwater
  5. Back in My Body
  6. Celadon & Gold
  7. Burning
  8. Give A Little
  9. Say It
  10. On + Off

My first exposure to Hayden James came in 2018 during EDC Las Vegas. If you’ve following my blog in the past few years, you’d know his song “Numb” became my top listened to song of 2018 too. Like many of the artists I mentioned before, he was slated to play Coachella in 2020 and now returns for 2022. I had the chance to preview him two years ago, since I was just as stoked to see him perform again then as I am now. Since 2020, the Australian deejay has released a handful of singles and a DJ mix. He’s also put out so much more music since I last saw him perform in 2018 at Electric Forest. I can’t wait to have the chance to watch him again. He plays Sunday at Coachella, and I can bet you’ll catch him at the Sahara tent. I’m predicting a late afternoon, early evening set. It might even be a sunset set. Here’s some old and new songs you’ll wanna check out before heading to his Sunday show:

  1. Something About You
  2. Numb
  3. Just Friends
  4. Foolproof
  5. Rather Be With You
  6. Hold Tight
  7. On Your Own
  8. Waiting For Nothing
  9. Better Together
  10. Just A Lover

These five Coachella 2022 acts have all been part of this blog at one point or another, whether they were previewed for 2020 or played in the past. The thing they all have in common though is that if I already previewed them once, then I like them and I’m hyped to see them play. I’ve been listening to all these artists for the past week, along with many others I’ve already previewed. Time is winding down. Dust off your flower crowns because before you know it, we’ll be back. Coachella will be back. The vibes, the tunes, the fashion, the art, the food, the sunsets, the views, and everything else you love about Coachella will be here before you know it. Get ready and keep listening. We’re almost there!

Coachella Band Preview: FINNEAS

From the day after the last Coachella ended in April 2019 until now, I’ve been waiting to go back. Obviously March 2020 put a huge damper on the yearly spring tradition, and since then it’s just been a waiting game. I spent so many times thinking about Coachella, looking at pictures, and wondering what the day would be like when I finally get to go back and hoping by then it would be a normal Coachella. Now here we are, I leave for Coachella in just under a month and the festival begins in 5 weeks tomorrow. 1,090 days since the last Coachella once Day 1 Weekend 1 2022 hits. It’s unreal. I still keep holding my breath as I prep by listening to acts playing the festival this year, watching the Coachella Documentary from 2020, booking my travel, and planning out what I want to wear. With plenty of festivals now happening and three years since the last installment, Coachella seems imminent. I truly can’t believe we’ve made it this far. With the amount of time left, it’s really time to intensify the prep so this week I’m previewing an artist I’ve known about for a few years who, in my opinion, doesn’t get enough credit.

Finneas Baird O’Connell really has his claim to fame through his sister, Billie Eilish. He writes and produces a ton of her music along with other artists. He also writes and records his own music under the name FINNEAS. Before taking on his own project, he was the lead singer in the band, The Slightlys and took on some acting projects in the early 2010’s, including having a few appearances on the musical based TV show Glee. Since 2016, he has been recording and releasing his own music though. He released his first EP Blood Harmony in 2019 and his first studio album Optimist just last year. His music style is considered pop/alternative. After listening to FINNEAS for the first time in 2019, I would definitely consider him a pop artist. Also, despite the fact that he writes Billie’s music, I really do prefer his stuff over his sister’s. I knew once I discovered this that I wanted to listen to him more, but never really made the effort to do so. I guess there’s no better time than the present and no better festival to do it for than Coachella.

Billie Eilish is Saturday night’s headliner and usually a Billie festival appearance equates a FINNEAS festival appearance (sans Coachella 2019 when Billie made her first Polo Fields appearance). He plays a Sunday set. I’d expect a Sunday afternoon appearance from the older O’Connell sibling. I would also expect a Gobi or Mojave set from him. His set will likely be far less crowded than the set he’ll be a part of on Saturday night, but nonetheless, will be just as good. Here’s what you should be listening to in preparation for FINNEAS:

  1. Let’s Fall in Love for the Night
  2. Break My Heart Again
  3. I Lost A Friend
  4. Till Forever Falls Apart
  5. What They’ll Say About Us
  6. Angel
  7. A Concert Six Months From Now
  8. I Don’t Miss You At All
  9. Claudia
  10. New Girl

Coachella Band Preview: Olivia O’Brien

It’s the last week of January which means we’re 2 1/2 months away from Weekend 1 of Coachella 2022. I’m finishing my 4 week run in Mexico and will be back for about a week and a half before spending another 2 1/2 weeks down in Cancún putting on a few more events. Hopefully I can prepare some blogs before heading back, because as I’ve found out, it’s really tough to write band previews down here. In fact, it’s taken me almost 3 days to write this. Anyway, time to focus on music and today it’s all about pop artist Olivia O’Brien.

I first heard of Olivia O’Brien around the time of Lollapalooza when my friend Hailey wanted to see her Lolla Aftershow. It was the same night as All Time Low and as you may know, we ended up there. The next day I ended up helping Olivia out before she entered the festival site because she forgot her wristband in her hotel room. When she walked in, I yelled to her “You’re gonna crush it today!” and of course that made her smile. She thanked me and continued on her way.

Hailey then pushed me to listen to Olivia. She made me a playlist and included one of her songs, as well as recommending a few to me. I can’t say I got super into her, but I know a few songs. I plan to listen to her in preparation for Coachella though because I’d love to check out her set.

Olivia O’Brien got her start around the age of 13 by posting a cover of a Gnash song on SoundCloud. After getting attention from Gnash, himself, he invited her to record her original song “hate u, love u” with him in Los Angeles. The single peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, which eventually lead Olivia to a record deal.

Olivia released her first EP It’s Not That Deep in 2017 amongst multiple singles over the years until she dropped her first album Was It Even Real? in April 2019. She followed up the album with the EP It Was A Sad Fucking Summer in November 2019. She has since released two more EPs The Results of My Poor Judgment in February 2020 and Episodes: Season 1 in June 2021.

Olivia O’Brien’s music style is pop mixed with R&B. In my opinion, she has a powerful, edgy pop style with an R&B vibe. It comes through in so many of her hits like “hate u, love u”, “Fuck Feelings”, “Josslyn” and “Love Myself”.

I think it’s very likely that you can catch Olivia O’Brien at one of the smaller stages this spring. She’s probably playing either Gobi or Mojave on Sunday. I would anticipate a mid-afternoon set as well, but you never know. Either way, I’m trying to catch her performance. I wouldn’t anticipate huge crowds yet, but I know she’s popular amongst the young crowds attending the festival. If you’re trying to see her, here’s a few songs you should listen to:

  1. “hate u, love u”
  2. “Josslyn”
  3. “Fuck Feelings”
  4. “Love Myself”
  5. “No More Friends”
  6. “RIP”
  7. “Tequilawine”
  8. “NOW”
  9. “Fade Out”
  10. “Empty”

Coachella Band Preview: Bishop Briggs

We’re almost to the end of January. With that lineup release last week, time is limited before Coachella 2022 begins. At this point we’re officially past the 3 month mark until Weekend 1! That being said I have a lot of bands to write about and not much time. It’s time to start picking out your Coachella fits and planning which artists you want to see. It’s also time to start listening to those artists. So without further adieu, first up on my list is one of my most anticipated acts this year, Bishop Briggs.

Bishop Briggs is no stranger to Coachella. She last performed at the festival in 2017 prior to the release of her debut album Church of Scars. Since then she dropped her second album CHAMPION in 2019. She’s been touring and playing festival gigs consistently over the last few years too. Her music hasn’t really changed much either. She still has that powerful, deep, dark, and soulful sound. She also still brings plenty of energy to her sets.

I could see her playing an early set on the Coachella stage or the Outdoor Theatre or a later set at Gobi or Mojave. I highly believe she’ll draw a crowd. It’ll definitely be a fun upbeat set to be at and I know she’ll be bringing the heat to the desert. She’s one of my top artists this year and I really hope I’m able to check out her set. Given that her set is on Friday, I may not have the opportunity. I’m hoping for a late set because of this. I’ll definitely have more of a chance to see her if it is. As for set preparations for Bishop Briggs, here’s what I’m gonna start listening to:

  1. River
  2. Dream
  3. CHAMPION
  4. Wild Horses
  5. HIGHER
  6. White Flag
  7. Dark Side
  8. JEKYLL & HYDE
  9. Tempt My Trouble
  10. Be Your Love

The Return of Live Music and the Top Tunes of 2021

I came into this year believing it would be a transition. I knew it wouldn’t be the best year ever, but I truly believed we were going to transition back into some weird period of normalcy that wasn’t quite exactly normal yet. Sure enough after 15 long months, we did and live music came back into our lives. I went back to work. I saw my friends again, made new ones, and got closer to others, which is something I’m so grateful as someone who works in live events. Usually at the end of the year, I recap some of my favorite music, but this year, after talking to a friend of mine, I’ve decided to include something extra. This was the first year in a while that I didn’t have a stand out favorite song of the year. For me, this year was a comeback to music I know and love with a few new faves along the way. You’ll see what I mean. So let’s get to it, here are my 2021 favorites in music:

Torches X -Foster the People

I knew going into 2021 that Torches, one of my all time favorite albums by my favorite band Foster the People, would be turning 10. Last fall, I was hoping they would play a drive-in show in May in honor of the 10th anniversary. Needless to say I never expected I would get to see them play a 10th anniversary show in LA in November nor did I expect a deluxe edition of the album with some of my favorite early Foster the People songs. That’s what I got though and I’m more stoked about it than you know. Plus after years of hoping and wishing, “Broken Jaw” is now on Spotify. It can’t get any better than that.

30 -Adele

After 6 years, Adele finally put out new music in 2021. As I wrote recently, 30 hasn’t been my favorite Adele album, but it was still something I anticipated for quite a while. It deserves recognition for that, especially after the endless amount of Twitter teases over the past 2 years. It’s still one of my favorite albums of 2021 and has several great tracks that I love. I’m stoked Adele is finally back.

Decco

Decco was a huge discovery for me this past spring. I spent a good amount of time listening to their songs after finding them because of a Kygo song on my Release Radar Spotify playlist. I’m actually surprised their song “I Didn’t Know” wasn’t my most listened to song of 2021 because I surely spent a lot of time listening to that track this past spring and summer. I’m hoping there are more solid Decco songs released in the future and maybe even a festival set or two. They’re great and I’m glad I found them.

“Chapstick” -COIN

I added this song to my work out playlist in mid-October after returning home from ACL and it’s been a song that I haven’t been able to get enough of since. I’ve been listening to COIN here and there for the last few years, but this song just hits different for me. It’s got such a great edgy, rock feel. I’ve kept it on repeat for the past 2 months and I’ll likely be keeping it that way into the new year.

“Dissolve” -Absofacto

My friend Hailey told me about this song during Lollapalooza because Absofacto played the festival. She said the song was a big hit, but I hadn’t heard it. She played it for me and I was hooked. I added it to my summer work out playlist and much like “Chapstick” it was a song I kept playing on repeat. In fact, I even extended the listening period by putting it on my fall work out playlist too. It’s been a song I’ve loved since the summer and one of my favorites of 2021.

“Low Rider” -War

This 1975 classic has been the official/unofficial song of the year for me. What started as a joke over the radio at Peach just carried on for the rest of the year. I kept hearing this song at random times after that and it’s always a jam. I even bought the single on vinyl 2 weeks ago. Glad this song made a comeback this year for me and the festie pals because it’s truly the best.

Loving in Stereo -Jungle

Jungle’s Loving in Stereo was another one of my favorite albums of the year. It has such a complete track-listing with so many songs I enjoy. I had it playing in my car for months too. I’ve been listening to Jungle since their debut album was released in 2014 and caught them at Coachella in 2015 and Lollapalooza in 2018. This is definitely my favorite album of theirs so far and I’m disappointed I didn’t see them on their tour this fall in support of it. I’m hoping for some festival appearances next year that I’ll be able to catch because this album made me love Jungle even more.

“Sweet Talk” -Fitz Leland

In early 2021, I discovered this jam by independent artist Fitz Leland. It was one of my favorites to listen to last winter, especially during my weekly adventures on the slopes. It was always such a vibe hearing it while on the lift or while lifting (you know it was on the work out playlist too!). This one definitely helped carry me through a winter I tried to make the best of. It’s such a mood.

So I know I usually do a top 10 followed by some runners up, but this year wasn’t about music I listened to. It was about music I saw. Being sidelined for 15 months from shows and work made me want to see music as much as I could as soon as I was able to. I also appreciated seeing live music much more. After thinking about it and looking back on my calendar, I’ve seen 39 full and partial sets this year since June, when I saw my first concert since Dermot Kennedy back in February 2020. So instead of just songs, albums, or artists, here’s something extra that I’ve never done yet. Here are my favorite sets from concerts and festivals (in the order in which I saw them) once live music came back this year:

The Suicide Machines & Less Than Jake

This was my first concert in 15 months. I saw both bands play AC Beer Fest on the first weekend of June at a time when everything was starting to transition into a normal-ish time again. AC Beer Fest was an outdoor festival that we tailgated on a beautiful Saturday. I can’t even express what it felt like in that moment to be together with my friends at a ska punk show again. Tears were had. Songs were sung. We skanked and I got beer accidentally dumped on me on the way out to the parking lot. It was the best day with my pals.

Carrie Underwood at Country Jam

Country Jam was my first big gig/festival that I worked since Mexico in the winter of 2020. I also got to work a role that I wanted to try to get involved in on my next festival season, credentials. The last night of the festival Carrie Underwood headlined. I’m not a country fan but of course I know Carrie Underwood, even if it’s only like 2-3 songs. So I anticipated her set all weekend. After a successful week on the Jam Ranch, I watched her Saturday night set with my co-worker friends. Again, it was an incredible feeling to be back to work and back at a music festival and that realization set in while taking in Carrie Underwood. The set culminated in “Before He Cheats.” We went so hard that we probably could have taken a Louisville slugger to both head lights in that moment that truly felt like live music was back.

Miley Cyrus at Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza has always been one of my favorite festivals. Unlike other festivals, I didn’t get to work Lolla in 2019 so it made the return to Lollapalooza this year even more special for me. I actually felt an excitement coming into work the first show day that I hadn’t felt at all yet despite working 2 festivals at that point. It was a different feeling that comes with working my favorite festivals though so that’s probably why. Miley Cyrus headlined the first day of Lollapalooza this year and I figured once I closed up my ticket help I would catch the end of her set. I met up with a girl on my team who I had met 2 days prior and that I clicked with instantly along with my VIP one-off turned festival worker homie Finnerty. Two of our other friends popped out of the VIP area that we were standing next to when Miley went into “7 Things.” We all went so hard. I kind of forgot the song existed until that moment. After that, she just kept playing all the hits. I couldn’t believe how many Miley songs I actually knew. She killed it too. I loved watching everyone get emotional during “The Climb.” The production during “Can’t Be Tamed” was fantastic. Then she closed with “Party in the USA” a half hour after her set was supposed to end which felt like a true party with people being together, dancing, and singing in the heart of downtown Chicago at the first major music festival since the panny d began. It was a special moment, granted some news about new variants and such changed everything the next day. That first night was a true celebration though and I was grateful to take it in from the crowd.

Green Day at Hella Mega

When the Hella Mega Tour was announced in 2019, I knew I wanted to work it. I even got to the point this year thinking I might attend if I didn’t get the chance to work. Fortunately though, I was able to work two dates on the tour and it was the coolest VIP event I worked all year. It was a no stress, low energy type of work day that ended as soon as the headliner, Green Day, took the stage. Green Day is such an iconic band and anyone who has ever listened to alternative/punk music has listened to Green Day. The first date I worked was in Hershey in August. I was entranced when I walked in the venue and I saw Bille Joe Armstrong strumming hard to “Holiday.” Green Day played all their hits on the tour from “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” to “Basket Case” to “21 Guns.” It was all around awesome. They were so entertaining to see live and that was my first time ever seeing them. I, of course, popped in the venue for one or two Fall Out Boy songs earlier and heard their entire set along with Weezer and the Interrupters’ from the VIP check-in spot too. We were set up right near the stage. It was a great day overall and I felt so lucky to have experienced it.

Lizzo at Firefly

Firefly was a rough week and half for me due to some personal feelings and such, but being able to actually be at the festival is always a rarity these days and one I cherished about my time in the Woodlands. After the Lizzo hype of 2019, I was so stoked to see her Sunday night set in one of her first performances back since early 2020. I got to see it from the VIP area with several of my friends who were working in VIP that weekend. It was a nonstop hour and a half dance party filled with endless joy that felt “good as hell!”

Glass Animals

After Firefly ended, I had 2 days before flying out to Austin for ACL. I was home for a total of 26 hours because the night before flying out I saw Glass Animals with my friend Amanda. We bought the tickets when the tour was announced back in May cause I anticipated being able to make the Tuesday night date. I made it happen and it was another night of nonstop dancing. Before I got into Glass Animals, I saw bits and pieces of their July 2017 Panorama set. That following fall I started listening to Glass Animals and felt bummed when I missed the call on them earlier that year. Dreamland was one of my favorite albums of 2020. I spent so much time at home listening to them last year that finally getting to see them perform in late September after all that time felt so satisfying. We had such a good time that we’re even thinking about seeing them again next year at Red Rocks because we don’t wanna talk we just wanna dance to Glass Animals again and again.

Dermot Kennedy at ACL

I made my return to ACL this year after working my first one ever in 2019. It was always a festival that I wanted to work but couldn’t figure out an in for. I was asked at Lolla if I wanted to do it again and I immediately said yes to spending two weeks in Austin. ACL brought a ton of great times and reunions with my ticketing fam and Austin friends, but none was more special than my reunion with my friend Danny, who I lovingly refer to as the Danimal. It had been just over 2 years since we last saw each other and after taking a full time role with a major event company he came to the 2nd weekend of ACL for fun. Thanks to my amazing team I was able to take some time to see all of Dermot Kennedy’s set with Danny. Danny was with me at Coachella 2019 when I first discovered Dermot. I caught Dermot’s set at Lolla, but seeing his ACL set with my favorite festival buddy was more special. We sang along to everything and danced harder than one would expect at a Dermot Kennedy set to the point that we created a mini mosh pit with two strangers during “Giants.” It was one of the most fun live music moments I experienced all year.

Foster the People (Torches X Show)

I already dedicated a whole blog to this show, so please check it out for all the detail. Just to reiterate though, I can’t believe I got to experience this show. It still feels surreal. Favorite band, favorite album, in one of my favorite places. Surreal.

LCD Soundsystem

When I wrote my end of 2020 music recap, I wrote about hoping to hear from LCD Soundsystem again in 2021. Well they came back. They announced a 20 show residency in NYC in November and December in early October and I spent one morning before heading to site at ACL struggling to get tickets. I managed to secure tickets to one of the early December shows with plans to see them again with my friends at their final date of the residency. The residency got cut short due to the unrelenting panny d, but I was still able to go to the show I purchased tickets for in the beginning of December. It became a whole weekend of shows with my friend Hailey who flew in to hang with me and to see James, Nancy, Pat and the rest of the crew. We spent some time hanging in NYC too. LCD Soundsystem always gets me hyped since I never thought I would get to see them after getting into them in 2012 post-break up. This time was no different as I planned to dance myself clean for the third time. We heard, in my opinion, one of the best set lists of the residency too. I danced myself clean with all my friends as daft punk played at my house and New York, which I love brought me down. It was so good that I could do it on repeat.

Streetlight Manifesto

The day after LCD Soundsystem Hailey and I made our way to Philly to attend mine and my friends’ annual Christmas celebration at Streetlight Manifesto. Usually it happens in central Jersey with just me and my two friends Ashley and Noah, but this year with an announced Philly date, we decided to do it there with a bunch of other pals. I convinced Hailey to come even though she wasn’t into Streetlight with the promise that she would get to experience this incredible tradition we started in 2018. Despite not playing “Point/Counterpoint” into “Keasbey Nights” back into “Point/Counterpoint,” we had the best time singing along with our arms around each other to the uptempo ska songs we loved listening to in high school after a year not being able to see Streetlight. It was another one of my favorite concert moments of the year.

Runners-Up:

All Time Low

Thanks to my friend Emily and her homie at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago I was able to attend All Time Low’s Lollapalooza aftershow during Lolla week (the show was Wednesday before the festival started). After Hailey hooked it up with providing a place to stay, we both started talking about attending a show the night before Day 1 of the festival. We both had an interest in All Time Low and it just happened to work out that Emily had connections at the venue when I told her we wanted to attend. The only problem was I worked onsite until 7 PM the day of the show which was when it started. There was an opener though so I figured ATL wouldn’t hit the stage til 8:30 or show and we would be fine. We were not, in fact, fine. All Time Low came on at 8 and we got to the venue around 8:40 by the time I left work, moved my stuff to the place we were staying, quickly changed, and ubered there. We saw the last 4-5 songs though. They were all bangers and it was enjoyable for the brief time we were there. I got to hear “Dear Maria…” their most iconic song, which was really cool because I’ve known that song since high school and I had never seen All Time Low before that night. Overall, it was fun to take in a show with Hailey since we were getting to know each other and realized we had similar music tastes. It really kicked off my return to Lollapalooza too and I knew it would be a great week.

The Killers at Firefly

As I mentioned before, I was able to see a bunch of music at Firefly given my role and hours for the week. I was able to see everything I wanted to see on Friday and Sunday at the festival, which included Friday night’s headliner, The Killers. Both times I saw the Killers previously were with my mom, so this was the first time seeing them without her. I was sure to record her favorite song though and send it to her as I took in the set with some of my festie friends. It was another set of the weekend that included tons of dancing as I sang along to mostly every song. The Killers always put on a good show and this was no different even if they didn’t end with “Mr. Brightside.”

Nelly at Firefly

My inner middle school self was so excited to see Nelly at Firefly. That’s the great thing about festivals, being able to see music you wouldn’t normally buy a concert ticket to. I took advantage of the opportunity and it was such a fun set. Nelly was so big during my middle school and high school years that I knew almost every song he performed. There was a huge crowd for his set and almost everyone was singing/rapping along to hits like “Ride Wit Me”, “Hot in Herre”, “Air Force Ones”, and “Grillz.” As a former fan, it was definitely a highlight to be able to see Nelly this year.

Now that I did a double review for the year that brought live music back into our lives, what’s next? Well there’s still plenty of concerts and events that didn’t get to happen this year so next year the comeback is still on. I’m highly anticipating new Arctic Monkeys next year and a Foster the People tour that they mentioned at their Torches X show. I’m also still hoping for new music from LCD Soundsystem. At least they came back to play shows these past 2 months. I’m also excited for new alt-J and Bastille. Both have new albums dropping in February. I’m still hoping for more Florence and the Machine as I was last year, but it would also be great to add Tegan & Sara to that list too.

If all goes well, in a few days there should be a certain well-known festival that will be dropping a lineup. I have my fingers crossed that all goes accordingly with it this year since it’s been 3 years since the last one. I know so many others are hopeful as well. In any event, once that lineup drops there will be several blog posts coming straight from the marathon month I’ll be spending in Mexico, since those events are back as well. 2021 will definitely go down as a return to live music and I hope it all keeps going smoothly into the next year. Until then, don’t stop listening and buying tickets!