rock

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!

The Car: Album Review

It’s been a big fall for new album releases and a comeback of sorts for several artists, including the Arctic Monkeys, who released their seventh studio album, The Car on October 21st. The last Monkeys release came in 2018 with Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Throughout the last 9 years, since the release of their most successful album to date, AM, their sound faded from alternative/indie rock to lounge music.

Alex Turner’s voice has always been that of a crooner, but earlier Arctic Monkeys music feels like a full band experience from Turner’s vocals to Matt Helders’ drum beats to Nick O’Malley’s bass lines and especially to the unique and edgy riffs from Jamie Cook and Turner, himself. The Arctic Monkeys had such an established alternative/indie rock sound that has depleted over the last several years. According to Turner, it isn’t changing either. That being said for someone like me who found a great enjoyment in the Arctic Monkeys’ earlier records, this album is tough to get into.

I think you have to be in a certain type of chill space to take in so many of these lounge pop tracks that sound straight out of a 1960’s speakeasy. The music has such a dark, dreamy, and nostalgic feel, which isn’t something that hits for me. If there was any stand out song on this record I really like, it’s “Body Paint,” from the lyrical references of deception to the faint remnants of old Arctic Monkeys songs.

The Arctic Monkeys are currently playing some international fall dates and festivals in support of The Car with worldwide dates planned for 2023. Thankfully with seven studio albums, their set lists span across the last 20 years of their existence so we’ll likely be hearing all the hits, both new and old. And yes I do plan on seeing them play a full set this time around, compared to my brief Arctic Monkeys experience while working their show at Forest Hills in 2018. As for this new record, unfortunately, this is an album you might want to skip unless you’re a big Monkeys fan or prefer the style of music they’ve grown into.

Being Funny in a Foreign Language: Album Review

About a week ago I returned from a 6 week run of festivals. It was one of my longest and most challenging runs since I started working in the industry. I’m pleased to say it went so well and I’m so grateful for all of the experiences I had this fall. Alternatively, about a week and a half ago, the 1975 released their newest record Being Funny in a Foreign Language. It’s their fifth full length album since 2013’s self-titled debut album and their latest since 2020’s Notes on a Conditional Form. Unlike some bands, the 1975 never toured in support of their 2020 release, but instead went back in the studio to produce an entirely new catalog of music.

Being Funny in a Foreign Language is the perfect fall/early winter album, with a few songs referencing winter or Christmas (“Wintering” and “When We Are Together”). The first song titled “The 1975”, like every first song on every album they’ve ever released, even gives LCD Soundsystem “All My Friends” vibes. The album as a whole is so focused on love in such a happy way. It’s unique to other 1975 albums in this regard. The band partnered with famed producer Jack Antonoff on the album. I feel like when artists work with Jack their albums could be hit or miss for me. Lorde was a hard miss, whereas Lana Del Rey was a hit. The 1975 is definitely a hit as well. Despite the cliché love focused lyricism, the album is filled with a mix of indie pop ballads and bops, reminiscent of other 1975 records. That being said the album has a more pop feel than other records as well, but still stays true to the band’s sound that can be heard on their earliest hits like “Chocolate”, “Girls”, and “Heart Out”.

The 1975 kicks off the tour for their new record on November 3rd. I’ve seen the 1975 play 4 times. Each time I’ve seen them at a festival I worked. This is the first time I’ll be catching them on tour and actually paying for a ticket. I cannot wait! I’ve slowly developed a love for these guys that didn’t exist when my friends saw them play a show in 2014 at a small venue about an hour away from here. I didn’t quite get it then, but sometimes that stuff takes time. Now I’m a fan and ready to see Matty Healy and company tear through this excellent new record while playing all their hits from past albums especially the ones we all missed in 2020. If you’re a fan of the 1975, you’re likely going to like Being Funny in a Foreign Language just as much as you’ve liked past records. It’s definitely something different from the British indie rockers, but never strays too far from what you’re used to.

Coachella Band Preview: Turnstile

Only another 2 weeks before people from all over the world descend upon the fields at the Empire Polo Club. The stages are being built as we speak while all attendees get in any final preparations for their time in the desert. My hype level is high as I leave in just under a week from now. I still can’t believe it. In the last few months, I’ve been consistently listening to bands and artists I want to see at Coachella. This next band is one that I’ve recently been trying to get into in anticipation of seeing them at the festival. Their hardcore punk style of music is a genre I haven’t listened to much since I was in high school and college, but I kind of like it. They’re Turnstile from Baltimore, MD.

The band formed in 2010 and released their debut album Nonstop Feeling in 2015. The band is comprised of Brendan Yates, Franz Lyons, Daniel Fang, Brady Ebert, and Pat McCrory. They released two EPs prior with Pressure to Succeed in 2011 and Step 2 Rhythm in 2013. Their third EP Move Thru Me came out in 2016 followed by their second full length album Time & Space in 2018. Two more EPs Share A View (2020) and Turnstile Love Connection (2021) were released before their latest album Glow On dropped this past September. The album debuted at #30 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart and was listed as #8 on Rolling Stone’s list of Top Albums from 2021. For a hardcore band, that doesn’t happen very often. The hype surrounding the band has built up over the years, and it’s for good reason. They’re putting out great music. They have a much harder sound being a hardcore punk band, but also remind me of Turnover and other modern alternative rock bands.

Turnstile plays on Saturday during Coachella. I expect them to play in the heat of the afternoon sun. I would guess you might catch them at Mojave, Outdoor, or the Main stage depending on what time they play. I would love to see them at Sonora, similar to Turnover’s 2019 set, but I think they’re a little more popular than Turnover and will likely draw a bigger crowd. The only requirement for their set is that there needs to be enough room for a mosh pit. Their set will likely have the sweatiest and hardest dancing crowd. Sahara and Yuma aren’t even a competition. If you’re trying to mosh at Coachella, here are the Turnstile songs you should be listening to:

  1. MYSTERY
  2. BLACKOUT
  3. Real Thing
  4. HOLIDAY
  5. Gravity
  6. Generator
  7. I Don’t Wanna Be Blind
  8. ALIEN LOVE CALL
  9. UNDERWATER BOI
  10. Keep It Moving

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.

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!

We’re Going Down Down

It’s been 2 months since I last posted, which is something I’ve never done since I started this blog 7 years ago. I always tried to update each month, if not each week. I have good reason though. Over the last several weeks, I got caught up in this weird, transitional year. I finally returned to work onsite at a music festival in late June. Then the week after I was onsite at another. They were the first major events I worked in 15 months. It was awesome. Words can’t even explain how great it feels to be back at work doing what I love. Then after having visitors throughout the rest of July and dealing with some personal ongoing issues (tooth problems!), I made my huge return to Lollapalooza last week. Lollapalooza has always been one of my favorite festivals since I started working music festivals in 2016. Unlike other festivals, I did not work Lolla in 2019 so it was three years since my last time in Grant Park. The feeling of excitement for Lolla was what I was yearning for throughout 2020 and early 2021.

Before Lolla though, as I mentioned, I had several visitors throughout the month of July. One of them was my best buddy, my little cousin, Hudson. Over the last year, Hudson has gotten into alternative/pop punk band Fall Out Boy. I was a Fall Out Boy fan during high school. I saw them at my first Warped Tour in 2005. While Hudson was here, it was cool revisiting Fall Out Boy with him, especially since he knows the words to almost every song on From Under the Cork Tree. Currently, FOB is still in the news as they recently joined Green Day and Weezer for the Hella Mega Tour. Before we get into that though, let’s get into some band history.

Fall Out Boy formed was formed in Chicago in 2001 by bassist Pete Wentz and lead guitarist Joe Trohman. The group then recruited front man Patrick Stump and drummer Andy Hurley to the group, after trying out the group with other members. The band eventually signed with indie label Fueled by Ramen. They released their debut album Take This to Your Grave, under the label in May 2003. The album hurtled the band into the spotlight and substantially grew their fanbase.

In 2005, Fall Out Boy released their sophomore album From Under the Cork Tree. The album debuted at number 9 on the Billboard Top 200. The album’s top single “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year as well. Their second single from the album “Dance, Dance” also hit the top ten. It was post sophomore album that the band started touring in arenas and playing music festivals other than Warped Tour. The album also earned them a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.

The band dropped their third album Infinity on High in 2007 to much success. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200. The band headlined two major tours in support of their third album and also had several successful singles including “The Carpal Tunnel of Love”, “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s an Arms Race”, and “Thnks fr th Mmrs”. In December 2008, the band released Folie á Deux, their fourth full length album. Again, the album became a top ten hit, but did not quite reach the level of popularity as their prior two albums.

The band then went on hiatus from 2009 until 2013, when in February they announced their fifth record Save Rock and Roll and a reunion tour. The album’s top single “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2015, the band released their sixth album American Beauty/American Psycho. This album produced hits like “Centuries”, “Uma Thurman”, and “Immortals”.

The band’s latest album “Mania” was released in September of 2017. The band embarked on the yearlong Mania tour in support of the album, which included a stop at Wrigley Field in Chicago, the band’s largest headlining stadium show to date. As I mentioned, the band is currently playing on the Hella Mega Tour with Green Day and Weezer. The tour was announced in 2019 and was delayed in 2020 due to the “panny D”.

Fall Out Boy is widely considered a pop punk band, but their music bridges into alternative, emo, pop, and punk along with other sub-genres. Through the years, I feel like Fall Out Boy’s music went from punk heavy to more pop-mainstream. Their shows have too. From playing, general admission small shows to seated larger venue shows, Fall Out Boy’s persona has changed. As an early Fall Out Boy fan, it was weird working their show in 2017 and not seeing a place for a pit. Nonetheless, I’m sure there have been some pits during their sets at Hella Mega.

After some family deliberation, my cousin and his wife decided they want to wait for a Fall Out Boy headlining tour to take Hudson to see them, instead of splurging on Hella Mega tickets. Until then, I guess we’ll just keep up this Fall Out Boy phase. They’ve become a band that has spanned the decades, which is something I didn’t really expect or even think about when I started listening to them in high school. It’s to the point that Fall Out Boy has truly become a family show. If you haven’t already, give Fall Out Boy a shot, but I’m sure you probably already have at some moment through the years. I guess we truly will remember them for centuries.

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.

Women in Music Pt. III: Album Review

I’ve been patiently waiting for Haim’s third album, Women in Music Pt. III to drop. Some of the bright spots of this year have been the release of new music so I’ve been looking forward to this brand new album by one of my favorite bands. The album was slated for release on April 24th, but due to the current world wide crisis was pushed back for a late summer release. Then it was bumped up to a June 26th release date. June 26th was Friday, which means the album is finally out!

Haim has been releasing new music for almost a year now with “Summer Girl” dropping at the end of last July. Several other singles have also dropped in the lead up to the album release. Before live music ceased in March, Haim was in the midst of a Deli tour that honored their Jewish roots. The band was playing small shows at famous delis in a few locations around the country in honor of their first show ever being at Canter’s Deli in L.A. in 2000. The band played two of those scheduled dates before the country began to shut down. In honor of the album’s release though, the band did a live stream on Friday from Canter’s.

The biggest difference between Women in Music Pt. III and Haim’s first two albums is that this one hits deeper. The song topics get personal and more sad than their earlier works. Many songs on the album sound like the total opposite of that though. I’ve heard them described as “sad bangers”. A few tracks also add hints of jazz and Caribbean/tropical vibes to Haim’s west coast style pop/soft rock. Overall the album offers versatility in sound and lyrics compared to Days Are Gone and Something to Tell You. It’s got the Haim we’ve always loved (my favorite song “Don’t Wanna”) plus the Haim that is growing and pushing their style more (“Los Angeles”).

When live music is finally a thing again, expect plenty of tour dates and festival dates from these three sisters. I would even expect them to join the lineup for Taylor Swift’s festival next summer. Until then, bask in the greatness of this new music we were given in the strangest of times. It’s a great soundtrack for the summer and one you should take in before you can see them perform again. For me, new music is one of the only things that has felt the way it’s supposed to feel and I owe Haim and whoever else is releasing new music this year for this piece of comfort in a very uncomfortable year.

Notes On A Conditional Form: Album Review

In a time where there’s not much in the immediate future to look forward to, we thankfully still have music. New albums and songs are still being released. Some releases may have been delayed, but they’re still happening this year. For an industry that’s been crushed by this world wide crisis, it offers a glimmer of hope and an abundance of jams.

Today, The 1975 dropped their highly anticipated fourth album, Notes On A Conditional Form. The album release was twice delayed already this year, but every few weeks a new single from the album was released in the lead up to this weekend’s official release. To me, this feels like The 1975’s most ambitious album to date. Stylistically, it crosses genres, yet still maintains the indie/synth pop sound well associated with The 1975.

An inkling of this genre breach happened when the band dropped one of the new album’s first songs, “People.” The track sounds more like a punk rock/hardcore anthem than anything you’ve ever heard from The 1975 in the past. I remember being pleasantly surprised with the vibe of the new song as someone who grew up listening to punk and hardcore music, but I still questioned where the band was going with it. As more songs were released, I was assured that their new album would be full of stylistic surprises.

In early April, The 1975 released the song “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America,” which features indie folk rock artist, Phoebe Bridgers, who was supposed to join the band on their 2020 tour until it was inevitably postponed. The song is a testament to Bridgers’ folk rock style. The only thing that gives it away is Matty Healy’s vocals, but even Healy’s sound succumbs to the song style. “Playing on My Mind” also has that indie folk feel.

“Roadkill,” which wasn’t released prior to the full album, sounds like it could’ve come off a Sam Hunt record. It’s got an unmistakable country twang. Despite the country vibe, it still feels like a 1975 indie pop song. I kind of love it. There’s also a few interlude tracks on the record that bridge into another genre as well. These songs take the standard synth pop sound of the band into a more electronic sound. “Shiny Collarbone” and about halfway through “Having No Head” are those dance tracks.

The album is full of songs that sound like what you would expect from The 1975 too. There’s several bangers like “Me & You Together Song”, “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”, and “Frail State of Mind” and smooth rock ballads like “Guys”, “The Birthday Party”, “Don’t Worry”, and “Nothing Revealed/Everything Denied.” It’s honestly such a great mix of music.

Like I said, this album feels different than what we’re used to from The 1975, but it blends genres remarkably well and still gives us the sound that we’re looking for. It may have taken me an album to actually get into The 1975 (I really got into them after “The Sound” from I like it when you sleep…), but I’ve been a fan ever since. I’ve always really been into their hits. “The Sound” (obviously), “Sex”, “Heart Out”, “Chocolate”, and “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” are a few of my favorites. This new album feels different in a good way though and even the songs I don’t typically fall for, I love. I think if you’re an indie music fan or a music fan in general, you can find something on this record that you’ll like. It’s got something for everyone. But really, you might just love it all, it’s that good. So give it a shot. If you don’t find it appealing, my solution is that maybe you would like it better if you took off your clothes. (Of course, that one is my favorite!)