southern california

Coachella Band Preview: Tove Lo

This is it. The final blog post before the big first weekend. I make my journey out there in two days and I can’t wait to be among that festival atmosphere. Hopefully I get a chance to see one or two of these amazing bands or artists I’ve previewed, but I keep my expectations low to avoid disappointment just in case. The final artist I decided to preview is a Swedish singer/songwriter known as Tove Lo.

Tove Lo, whose real name is Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson, first came on to the music scene in 2014. Her career journey started way before that though. While growing up she went to music school and even became friends with Caroline Hjelt, who went on to form Icona Pop. By the end of her teenage years she formed the rock band Tremblebee. After the band broke up she decided to go after a songwriting career and earned a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music in 2011. Through that she often wrote and recorded her own compositions which lead to her eventual record deal.

Her stage name comes from a nickname she had growing up. Tove is part of her real name and Lo is the Swedish word for Lynx, which was her favorite animal growing up. Tove Lo’s first performances were in London and at SXSW in 2014 right around the time she released her first EP Truth Serum. The EP contained one of her most popular hits, “Habits”, which she released independently even before the EP came out. The track was re-titled “Habits (Stay High)” for Truth Serum and earned her breakout success as one of the hottest new artists of 2014. Her debut album Queen of the Clouds was released on September 24, 2014. It had much success making the top 20 on album charts in the U.S., the U.K., and Sweden. In Sweden the album is certified platinum. Towards the end of 2014, Tove Lo joined the third leg of Katy Perry’s Prismatic World Tour as the opening artist.

By early 2015 though, the breakout artist needed to take a little time away from singing as she had to have surgery on her vocal chords to remove cysts that had developed. Near the end of the year she was back at it touring across North America in support of the re-packaged edition of Queen of the Clouds which was released in October of 2015. The year rewarded Tove Lo with two Grammi Awards (Swedish version of the Grammys) and a Grammy nomination for her writing credit on Ellie Goulding’s song “Love Me Like You Do”.

In 2016 the Swedish singer announced she would be releasing her second album later in the year. She toured as the opening act for Maroon 5 to promote the upcoming release. She released the first single from her new album Lady Wood in early August called “Cool Girl”. The album was released on October 28, 2016. Tove Lo recently went on a solo tour in support of Lady Wood and has plans to join Coldplay’s upcoming tour as an opening act this summer.

Along with her own success, Tove Lo has also been involved in many successful collaborations with artists such as Nick Jonas, Coldplay, and Flume, as well as earning songwriting credits for many well known artists such as Ellie Goulding, Hillary Duff, Victoria Justice, Lea Michele, and Icona Pop. One of her most successful collaborations came in 2015 when she sang on Swedish DJ Alesso’s track “Heroes (We Could Be)”. The single had high chart success in Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S.

Tove Lo’s music style is an alternative style of pop music. It might be considered synthpop or electropop. It definitely has an electronic influence and is a bit darker than your standard pop music as well. A lot of her songs have this sexual type of feel and sound. I’m not saying that’s the intention with her music either. Her style is just perfect baby making music.

I don’t remember when I first heard of Tove Lo. I know I knew her song “Habits (Stay High)” before anything else. I didn’t really like the song though, which is probably because I would only ever hear it on mainstream pop radio. Even though I’m not a huge fan of listening to that type of radio, I have a guilty pleasure song or two that gets overplayed. “Habits” was not one of those. “Talking Body” was though. I first heard “Talking Body” on a Spotify playlist and I really liked the song. It was even part of my work out playlist for a while. I never really got hooked on any of her other songs though, but I think at that point I appreciated her as more of an alternative pop artist.

So for the second week in a row why am I previewing this artist that I’ve never gotten into? In fact compared to Two Door Cinema Club, I don’t even own any of Tove Lo’s records. Well it’s pretty simple. Tove Lo plays Sunday at Coachella and I’ve only previewed two other Sunday acts, Lorde and Grouplove. If I had the whole festival to just hang out and see music, there would only be 2 performances that I’d really wanna see on Sunday which frees up a ton of the day. My familiarity with Tove Lo would make me want to check her set out. I think she’ll put on a great set and I definitely suggest you check her out if you have time on Sunday. Here’s a few songs you might want to know first:

  1. Habits (Stay High)
  2. Talking Body
  3. Cool Girl
  4. True Disaster
  5. Influence
  6. Moments
  7. Not On Drugs
  8. Got Love
  9. Heroes (We Could Be) (w/ Alesso)
  10. Say It (w/ Flume)

 

 

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Coachella Survival Tips

As you know, Coachella begins this weekend. As you also know (if you’ve followed my blog), I attended Coachella last year for the first time. Sure this doesn’t make me a Coachella veteran at all. In fact, I didn’t even camp out like many festival-goers who attend the annual event in the Indio desert. All that aside, I still feel like I can offer some tips for first timers attending the festival and staying at hotel nearby (sorry campers!) based on my experience.

1. Figure out which bands are must-see acts once the schedule gets released. Every year Coachella releases the lineup schedule a few days prior to Weekend 1 of the festival. Good news for you, it was released earlier today. Check out the times of the bands you want to see and note them in your phone or on the Coachella app, which I believe has a feature you can use to keep track of your favorite acts. Also make note of the stages (and locate the stages!). Sometimes bands may be playing on stages close enough together that you can catch half of one set then half of another set. Many times you’ll find that two of the bands/acts you want to see are playing at the same time, especially if the day is stacked with your favorite talent (Sia vs. The Chainsmokers on Sunday night). If that’s the case you’ve gotta make a choice, or like I said maybe you can do the half and half thing. If your favorite acts aren’t coming on until later in the day, sleep in and head to the festival later too. Last year on both Saturday and Sunday we went to the festival a few hours later than when gates opened because the acts we wanted to see weren’t coming on til late afternoon. After exploring the festival in full on Friday, it got boring waiting around til whatever time the next band we wanted to see came on. We adjusted accordingly for the next two days. Always allow yourself enough time to arrive though because sometimes security gets increased and it takes longer to enter the festival grounds.

2.  Get merch the first day. If you want a t-shirt, poster, or other special merch from the festival, don’t wait around til Sunday to hit up the merch stand. They will run out of your size and you’ll have way less options. Last year we hit up the merch stand immediately after we walked in on Friday (along with the Ferris Wheel, which is another good thing to do the first day, if you plan on riding). We were able to get the Coachella t-shirts we wanted and I was able to get Coachella socks from the artsy-ish building next to the merch stand. On Sunday, I decided I was going to get my uncle a t-shirt for buying me dinner the night before we flew out for the festival. Many of the tees I liked for him were unavailable in his size, so I settled for what was left. If you’re wondering, yes the line is long on Friday. It may take a little while and you may get hot and sweaty from being in the crowded line, but it will all be worth it when you have solid proof of your Coachella attendance.

3. Eat a big meal before you come to the festival. There’s both advantages and disadvantages to this. Sure at some point you’re going to get hungry while you’re at the festival. There really are so many delicious options to choose from, but lines can be long and the food is expensive, like $10 for a personal pizza expensive. Last year we went out to eat each day before the festival. It helped save money and time. The disadvantage: you don’t get to sample all the cool, creative vendors Coachella has to offer, unless of course, you want to over stuff yourself. By going out to eat before getting to the festival, we were filled for most of the day. Then, later on, we got something if we felt hungry. In this way, we only dealt with the long lines and expensive food once a day or so.

4. Stay hydrated. Coachella is in the desert. It’s hot in the desert. During the day temps can be in the 90’s to over 100 degrees. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids at the festival even if you don’t feel thirsty. By fluids, I don’t just mean alcohol either, but its even more important to stay hydrated if you’re choosing to drink, especially in the day. You don’t wanna pass out or end up in a hospital. Water at Coachella is cheap. It’s $2 per bottle. There’s also water stations where you can refill your bottle. Pro tip: The water in the refilling stations is extremely warm, so I only recommend this if you’re broke or desperate. One cool thing I discovered last year is that they sold fresh fruit waters at the festival. There was pineapple and watermelon water. These waters are awesome. Buy one if you feel like splurging a little on hydration. The benefit to these waters though is that when you finish the water you have a cup of ice left so you can easily refill your cup from a station and not have piss warm water. By doing this you’ll get your money’s worth and necessary hydration.

5. Wear sunscreen. Besides the fact that it gets super hot in the desert. It’s also clear and sunny about 97% of the time (this is a made up number, but it seems accurate) in Southern California, especially in the desert. Those rays are strong. Sunscreen is a necessity if you don’t want to turn into a tomato or end up in a lot of pain anytime someone touches or bumps into you. Apply daily before you hit up the festival. I also believe you’re allowed to bring sunscreen into the grounds, but apply before regardless. You may forget about sunscreen once you arrive with all the distractions the festival has to offer.

6. Bring a sweatshirt/jacket. For as hot as it is in the day time, it can get about 30 degrees cooler each night. Before my first day at the festival last year, I decided to bring a backpack with a sweatshirt inside for night time. I wore a tank top and shorts. I didn’t believe I would need the sweatshirt at night because even with the temp dropping 30 degrees it would still be in the mid to upper 60’s. I figured I could handle that at night. Wrong. 60’s in the desert with a breeze each night is freezing, especially when your body is adjusting from a hot 90 degree day. If I was watching a set in a giant crowd it was less chilly, but standing in an open space in front of the main stage….brrrrr. Even standing in crowds I was slightly chilled and wore my sweatshirt. Some people even bring pants to wear at night. You know how well your body handles different temps though. Prep for what you need, but like I said, bring a covering of some sort for later.

7. Charge your phone each night. You know it and I know it. You’re going to use your phone a lot at Coachella. Whether it’s to check set times, take selfies with friends or pics of the art installations and festival scenes, post to social media, or send out texts and snapchats, your phone will get a lot of use. Many people bring their phone cords to recharge at the festival. As I found out last year though, those recharging stations don’t always work. You can always bring a portable recharger (which you’ll have to charge), or you can try to conserve battery when you’re not using your phone. Pro tip: Put your phone in airplane mode (I did this several times last year). I’ve also noticed that newer iPhones have a feature called Low Power Mode that you can turn on. There’s plenty of ways to keep your battery charged when you’re not on your phone at the festival. To be safe though, charge it every night. Start with 100% battery power each day and hopefully you make it through the day before you return to your nightly accommodations.

8. Find a meeting spot. I read this several times when I was prepping for my first Coachella. With the amount of people in such a small space at Coachella the cell service can be poor. If you lose your group of friends or plan to separate, it’s good to have a meeting spot. I actually believed I lost my cousin for a brief time last year on the last night of the festival during Florence and the Machine’s set. I wanted to be close for the set. Her back was sore so she wanted to sit further back and relax. We decided we would meet to the right of the last sound tower after the set was over. I had some issues with getting close. The set was more crowded than I anticipated and I wasn’t having fun. I decided to walk back and sit with my cousin but she wasn’t at our meeting spot. My cell service was spotty at that time due to the large amount of people at the set (people were arriving for Drake afterwards too). I couldn’t reach her. I had no idea where she went. Fortunately we found each other before the set was over because a few of my messages finally sent. After that experience, I understood the need for a meeting spot.

9. Take the shuttle. Since I’m writing this post for people who aren’t camping, I recommend you take a shuttle to the festival each day. Taking a shuttle is less of a hassle than driving. Last year we had a travel package that included rooms, wristbands, and shuttle passes. If you don’t have a packaged deal and are staying at a hotel, I recommend buying a shuttle pass. The shuttles take you directly to the festival and directly back. There’s different shuttle lines to different hotels. You don’t have to worry about parking, finding your car, getting too drunk, or even just keeping track of your car keys. Each day it took about an hour to arrive by shuttle from the moment we decided to leave our room until we were inside the festival gates. Of course travel time depends on where your hotel is relative to the festival. Ours was about 13 miles away. We never had to wait in a huge line for a shuttle either. Maybe that was because we arrived and left at non-peak moments. If you’re staying at a rented house, a hotel that’s not part of a direct shuttle line, an AirBnB, or some other type of nearby accommodation, find the closest shuttle line and walk or drive to it. Sure the driving part might defeat the purpose a bit, but you still won’t have to drive as far, worry about parking or finding your car, and you’ll have a bit of time to sober up on your ride back. A shuttle is the way to go.

10. Arrive early to get a good spot at a set. If you have a favorite band or artist you want to see up close, arrive to the set early to work your way to the front. Actually, arrive a set or two before your favorite act comes on that way when people leave the earlier set(s) you can work your way up as people in front of you disperse. No one likes a person who tries to push to the front at the last minute. You don’t want to be that person. Plus majority of attendees aren’t fortunate enough to have a V.I.P. pass that gives you access to special V.I.P. viewing areas at most stages. You have to get a good spot the old fashioned way. Arrive early and move up. If you’re desperate to try to see a headliner up close, come 2-3 sets early. I realize this isn’t always possible because there’s other bands you want to see. Just do your best and make sacrifices if you have to. Trust me when I say, even if you’re in the back and you can barely see the artist on stage, you’ll be able to hear the music, you’ll know if there’s any surprise appearances, and most importantly, you’re at fucking Coachella! There’s so many people who would love to be in your spot. Just soak in the atmosphere, the moment, and all the good vibes. Sing out loud. Dance your heart out. Be kind to others. Make new friends. Be young. Be wild. Be free. And have fun! Coachella is one of the best and most well-known music festivals in the world, so enjoy every second.

And with that last tip, that’s all I have to offer for Coachella 2016. Let’s get this year’s party started! Until next year…

Happy Coachella!

Coachella Band Preview: BØRNS

I’m not sure if you knew or not but, COACHELLA BEGINS ON FRIDAY! For those of you camping, it begins Thursday night, but the festival officially begins on Friday. Since Friday is only a mere 3 days from now, this will be the final band preview for Coachella 2016 (I do have an extra special Coachella post for tomorrow planned though). Over the past 3 months, I’ve previewed all of my favorite acts performing this year and now it’s getting down to the wire. There was a handful of bands to choose from that I wanted to write about for this final preview so I figured I’d choose one whose music style is more so my cup of tea, meaning not another EDM artist.

Garrett Borns, better known to the world as BØRNS, is a indie pop/alternative rock artist from Grand Haven, Michigan. His debut single, “10,000 Emerald Pools”, was released a little more than a year ago on November 10, 2014. His EP Candy was also released the same day. After the EP release, BØRNS played multiple TV appearances and festivals to promote his EP. He joined the likes of MisterWives last spring and Charli XCX and Bleachers last summer on tour. BØRNS debut album, Dopamine, was released on October 16, 2015. The album peaked at the 24th spot on the Billboard Top 200 in the U.S.

BØRNS plays an indie pop/alternative rock style of music. His music also has elements of synth and can be considered synthpop. There’s even a hippie-like sound to a few of his songs too. His high pitched vocals are smooth. At times they even remind me of Justin Timberlake’s sound, except better because his music has a much more indie sound.

I first heard of BØRNS over the summer at some point. I’m not exactly sure if I heard him first on the local alternative radio station or on my friends Spotify playlist. The song “Electric Love” was the first song I heard though. Since the summer, I’ve heard the song many more times as well as several other BØRNS songs that I like just as much and have recently been getting into.

BØRNS 2016 Coachella appearance will be his first. He did play other major festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits last year, but Coachella goes beyond other festivals in my opinion. He’ll be kicking off the festival with a Friday set. As I’m writing this post, I’m listening to BØRNS and I can picture hearing this song while a cool breeze blows and the palm trees and bohemian hipsters are swaying. It should be a great set to attend to start off the weekend. With the limited amount of time, here’s some songs you need to have on repeat over the next three days:

  1. 10,000 Emerald Pools
  2. Electric Love
  3. American Money
  4. Seeing Stars
  5. Past Lives
  6. The Emotion
  7. Fool

2016 Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival Lineup Release

A yearly ritual right after the New Year begins for music fans is the release of the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival lineup. Last year I paid more attention to it than ever because, as you all know, I attended the festival last April. Again, I can’t adequately express how great of an experience Coachella is, and this is from someone who didn’t even camp out. My soul felt totally at home while listening to live music and soaking up the sun and chill vibes in the desert for 3 days last year. It’s something you have to experience to understand. Since I previewed the bands at the festival last year in the hype leading up to the main event, and the response went well, I plan on doing the same thing this year even though it might not have the same meaning for me (Yeah, I’m not attending Coachella 2016 and I’m a little bummed about it). Before looking in depth at each band, I have to give an overview of all the acts. Since the lineup was released around 9:45 p.m. ET last evening, I can finally talk about them. First up, the headliners.

The Headliners: LCD Soundsystem, Guns N’ Roses, Calvin Harris

In the days leading up to the lineup release, I actually found out that LCD Soundsystem and Guns N’ Roses would be headlining. Safe to say I anticipated a great lineup this year and I was a little jealous (mostly because of LCD Soundsystem). 80’s rock band, Guns N’ Roses, are reuniting for the first time in 20 years for this upcoming Coachella performance. They’re the old school rock band performer this year, similar to AC/DC at last year’s event. The Saturday night set should be an epic rock n’ roll event for all who attend. Another band reuniting for Coachella 2016 is LCD Soundsystem. The band, who announced their split in 2011 and played their “final show ever” at Madison Square Garden that same year, is getting back together to play Coachella for the third time. They headline on Friday night. Lastly, Scottish DJ, EDM artist, and current boyfriend of Taylor Swift, Calvin Harris is set to close out the festival on Sunday evening. As a Coachella veteran and this year’s headlining EDM act, the Calvin Harris set should be the biggest of the festival. His set in 2014 was the second largest ever in festival history. As I learned last year, EDM is a huge deal at Coachella (I mean that Kaskade set though) so you can count on Calvin Harris’s as being one for the ages.

The Other Highly Billed Performers (aka the next two lines on each day of the poster): Ellie Goulding, Sufjan Stevens, Jack Ü, M83, Underworld, The Kills, Foals, Ice Cube, Disclosure, Zedd, A$AP Rocky, CHVRCHES, Halsey, James Bay, Sia, Major Lazer, Flume, Beach House, The 1975, Rancid, Miike Snow, Of Monsters and Men, G-Eazy, Purity Ring, Rae Sremmurd, Volbeat, 2manysdjs, Lord Huron, St. Germain, Savages, Grimes, Courtney Barnett, Run the Jewels, The Arcs, RL Grime, Gary Clark Jr., Silversun Pickups, Lush, ZHU, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Matt and Kim, Chris Stapleton, Cold War Kids, Death Grips, The Chainsmokers.

Like always, the Coachella lineup consists of a variety of music styles. There’s plenty of pop, rock, indie, alternative, and electronic in this year’s group of top acts along with a mix of a few other genres as well. Ice Cube, A$AP Rocky, Death Grips, and G-Eazy make up the rap contingency, especially without a main Rap/R&B headliner this year. James Bay, Sia, Halsey, and Ellie Goulding make up the pop acts. Sufjan Stevens and Lord Huron hold the crown for indie performers this year. Then there’s indie/rock/alternative bands like CHVRCHES, Grimes, Foals, M83, The 1975, The Kills, Of Monsters & Men, Silversun Pickups, Purity Ring, Beach House, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Matt and Kim and Cold War Kids and the ever popular electronic/dance/house music with Jack Ü, Disclosure, Zedd, Miike Snow, ZHU,  RL Grime, Major Lazer, The Chainsmokers. There’s even some old school punk in the mix with Rancid.

If I was attending this year, I’d definitely want to hit up the Matt and Kim set the most. I’ve wanted to see them play for the last couple years and I passed up on the opportunity last summer. I’d also love to see CHVRCHES, M83, The 1975, Of Monsters & Men, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Cold War Kids, Halsey, Sufjan Stevens, and Major Lazer. Since I wanted to see the 1975 and Cold War Kids within the last few months, it would be cool to finally see these guys in the desert. I hyped Halsey a few months ago as being one of the hottest new up and coming performers so her set is bound to be a great one. CHVRCHES is a band I recently got more into and really enjoy, especially their latest album. I feel like M83, Of Monsters & Men, Sufjan Stevens, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have been quiet for a while and I’ve liked all three groups for a few years now so they’ll be worth a listen. Then there’s electronic band, Major Lazer, who recently became more well-known with their song “Lean On”. If there was time I’d also love to check out Sia, Ellie Goulding, Beach House, James Bay, The Chainsmokers, Silversun Pickups, Rancid, Grimes, and Foals. I think Sia’s performance is going to be as huge as the three main headliners. It’ll be worth it to check out her set. Rancid is such a legendary punk band too that it would be hard to pass up an opportunity to see them. The other artists I mentioned would be fun to check out as well even though I may not be as familiar with their music as the acts I first listed. In all, this group definitely makes a great selection of top-billed talent worth seeing this year.

The Rest: The Last Shadow Puppets, Joey Bada$$, DJ Mustard, BØRNS, Christine and the Queens, Snakehips, Robert DeLong, Bob Moses, Ibeyi, Marco Carola, Parov Stelar, Black Coffee, Years & Years, Nicole Moudaber & Skin, Lido, HEALTH, Mavis Staples, Sasha, Goldroom, Carla Morrison, Nic Fanciulli, The Front Bottoms, Skepta, Sam Feldt, Lemaitre, Louis the Child, Frances, George FitzGerald, DJ EZ, Gallant, HÆLOS, Låpsley, Miami Horror, SG Lewis, Sheer Mag, Mbongwana Star, Nina Las Vegas, Nora En Pure, Masha, Deerhunter, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Rhye, Bat for Lashes, The Damned, Vince Staples, Tchami, Nina Kraviz, Snails, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Lost Frequencies, Chronixx, Vanic, Justin Martin, AlunaGeorge, Mano Le Tough, Shamir, DJ Koze, BADBADNOTGOOD, Moon Taxi, SZA, Ex Hex, Mr. Carmack, SOPHIE, Protoje, Alvvays, Zella Day, Dubfire, Matthew Dear, DMA’s, Matoma, Algiers, GoGo Penguins, The Black Madonna, Cloves, Strangers You Know, Amine Edge & DANCE, Phases, The Dead Ships, Maceo Plex, Baauer, KSHMR, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Adam Beyer & Ida Engberg, Wolf Alice, Pete Yorn, Hudson Mohawke, Kamasi Washington, Claptone, TOKiMONSTA, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Autolux, John Digweed, Thomas Jack, Anderson .Paak, Nosaj Thing, Deafheaven, Epik High, Tensnake, Alessia Cara, Crystal Fighters, The Vandals, Joywave, PRAYERS, Young Fathers, The Heavy, Tei Shi, Meg Myers, Soul Clap, Cassy, De Lux, Girlpool, Fur Coat, AC Slater

Out of the rest of the acts performing this year, only a few stand out to me. This might be bad news for me as a self-proclaimed music expert since I’ve only heard of a few of these bands. Guess I need to step up my game and learn about these bands. The few that do stand out though are BØRNS, Years & Years, Matoma, and Joywave. Over the summer I wrote about Years & Years and the release of their debut album. After selling out their fall tour, they’ll be supporting Ellie Goulding on her upcoming tour this spring, which I guess, from the looks of it, also includes a stop in the Coachella Valley for both in April. I’ve listened to BØRNS and Joywave a few times on Spotify and I’ve always enjoyed what I heard.

Lastly, I need to mention Matoma strictly for my jam of last spring, “Old Thing Back (Matoma remix)”. In fact, I used to listen to this song on repeat in my lead up to leaving for Coachella. Pretty sure I even played it for my cousin during our 2-3 hour drive to Palm Desert the day we arrived in So Cal. It sets the mood for some good vibes despite the explicit lyrics. Of course, the song was originally released as a song on The Notorious B.I.G.’s Greatest Hits Compilation in 2007. It was one of two songs unreleased previously. In late 2014-early 2015 the song regained popularity when it was released as a remix by Norwegian DJ Matoma. It’s kind of ironic that I’m writing this small bit about “Old Thing Back” today since a few days ago the song popped in my head when I realized I hadn’t listened to it in a while. Now I’m sitting here listening to it again on repeat. Matoma, you’re playing a year too late for me, but I’m sure festival-goers will be dancing their hearts out to the “Old Thing Back” remix in April.

After last year, I thought the lineup would make me super jealous that I wasn’t attending this year. It always seems like there’s a strong lineup every other year according to my tastes. 2014 was unreal in my mind and after 2015’s decent lineup, I thought 2016 would blow me away, especially after I heard LCD Soundsystem was reuniting to headline. To be honest though, it didn’t. I find it comparable to last year in a lot of regards. That means next year might be incredible. I should probably start saving up now since I vowed that the next time I go, I’m getting VIP tickets. I guess we’ll see what happens, but 2016 will no doubt be memorable for all attending despite opinions, whether good or bad, on the lineup. It was for me anyway.

The Countdown Continues: Send Off Series Game 2 USA vs. MEX

TWO….

Finish. It’s what the United States Women’s National Team needed to do to secure a 5-1 win against continental rival Mexico Sunday night at Stub Hub Center in Los Angeles, CA in front of a sold-out crowd of 27,000. After entering the locker room at the half with the score tied 1-1, some may have started to worry. The USWNT controlled most of the game. They had the possession. They had the confidence. They had the playmaking. They had an incredible amount of chances and missed opportunities including a header off the crossbar, a wide open net with Mexican keeper, Cecilia Santiago, out of position and a sequence of blocked shots in the 14th minute that left fans scratching their heads after no goal came from it (it was an unreal effort by Santiago and her defense to not let any shots get through). They stepped off the gas slightly for a few minutes and had a few lapses in decision making. It lead to a Mexican goal off a free kick from a dangerous area left of the 18 yard box. The only U.S. goal came in the 28th minute off a great run from Sydney Leroux who converted a Megan Rapinoe through ball from a sharp left angle. In the first half, the USWNT had almost everything. All they needed to do was finish. When they came back out for the next forty-five, that’s what they did.

The attack started promptly in the opening minute when halftime sub Abby Wambach reached a deflected ball and passed it back to fellow halftime sub Lori Chalupny who sent the ball past a diving Santiago near post for the game’s second tally. In the 58th minute Mexican defender Arianna Romero tried to clear a U.S. corner that deflected off her outstretched hand resulting in a penalty. Wambach converted the ensuing PK to give the U.S. a 3-1 edge. The fourth goal came three minutes later off another great run by Leroux who took a touch around Santiago and sent a shot from the right side into the back netting. 4-1 USA. No big deal. It made the 1-1 score at the half seem laughable, but they weren’t finished yet. In what was the play of the entire match, Tobin Heath, who entered the game for Lauren Holiday at the 62nd minute mark, used a sick, ankle-breaking cut move to leave a Mexican defender in the dust near the end line and sent a cross to the far post where Wambach finished it with her head. It happened in the 72nd minute. Even though the goal was Abby’s for the taking, the move by Heath brought fans to their feet. Heath made the whole play happen. It was an incredible show of talent and skill by the midfielder. 5-1 USA. Finished.

This match was exciting from the start. Despite the halftime score, the USA had the opportunities. In the second half they were able to convert those opportunities. It was a thrilling performance by a talent group of soccer players. I could argue that the USWNT is the most exciting soccer team to watch out of any soccer team in the entire world, men’s and women’s teams combined. I think that’s what captivated me back in 2011. The women’s game was so exciting. Just the other day before the match, I was reflecting on how I like watching  women’s professional soccer now (especially the USWNT) and how I distinctly remember at one point in my life thinking soccer was the only professional major team sport I’d never get into. Of course at the time I think I may have been flicking through the channels on TV and caught a glimpse of men’s game. So in a way, I was partially right. I’m really not into men’s soccer. I just didn’t realize I would/could fall for the women’s game.

As the start of the 2015 Women’s World Cup rapidly approaches (19 days say whaaaat?!), another player from the U.S. squad to watch out for is Sydney Leroux. After a slow start to the year because of an injury and lack of playing time, Leroux made it known in last evening’s match that she’ll be an attacking threat for the United States this summer in Canada. Her speed, tenacity, and skill as a forward make her a weapon for the U.S. Not to mention, she’s half Canadian and will no doubt be the recipient of some taunting by Canadian fans, who consider her a traitor to the nation. Leroux’s mother is Canadian and her father is American which gave her the privilege to play for the U.S. Soccer program through her youth and professional career despite being born in Canada. I’m sure she’ll use whatever harassment she receives next month to motivate her to the fullest because that’s the kind of determined player and person she is. She really is a force to be reckoned with. Then again, the United States is loaded with them. They have everything they need to go all the way to lift the coveted World Cup trophy. All they need to do is finish.

(Link to the Tobin Heath move to set up the 5th goal.)

Coachella Band Preview: Alabama Shakes

Too hyped that Coachella is only 3 weeks away? Me too. I’ve been listening to music, planning what to pack, and figuring out some other things I need for my arrival in beautiful Southern California. It’s about to get so real. In the meantime though, I’ve decided to blog about a band from the south playing the festival this year for their first time, Alabama Shakes.

Alabama Shakes was formed in 2009 when lead singer/guitarist Brittany Howard and bassist Zac Cockrell began writing songs while still in high school together in Athens, Alabama. They recruited drummer Steve Johnson to join the group  prior to recording some of the tracks they had been working on. Later, guitarist Heath Fogg came on board and so began their life as Alabama Shakes. They were formerly just called The Shakes but added the “Alabama” to differentiate from other bands also known as The Shakes. Their first album Boys & Girls was released in April of 2012, but they started gaining attention prior to that due to the release of a four song EP in September 2011. The band received Grammy nominations for “Best New Artist” and “Best Rock Performance” the following year for their work on the debut album.

I first heard of Alabama Shakes in the spring of 2012 shortly after the release of Boys & Girls. I heard the single “Hold On” and really enjoyed it. Then I remember reading about the group/album thinking, “these guys are gonna be like Foster the People was last year. I need to get into them before everyone else finds out about how good they are. (I like to say I knew about bands “first”.)” So I went out and bought the album. I told all my friends to listen to them. I saw they were touring and selling out shows after a solid performance at SXSW (South by Southwest) that year. However, what I thought would happen didn’t really happen as I expected. Alabama Shakes did end up receiving those Grammy nominations that were predicted when I first heard about them, but I still think Foster the People blew up more.

The band plays a blues, soulful type of rock known as roots rock, which is a combination of folk, blues, and country rock. They could also be classified in the Americana genre. Now that I think about it, it makes total sense why I got into Alabama Shakes in spring 2012. It was also at that point that my interest in The Black Keys started to peak. I purchased El Camino probably a month before I got Boys & Girls. Although I wouldn’t classify their styles and sounds as being the same, both Alabama Shakes and The Black Keys have some similarity with the blues rock sound they produce. Alabama Shakes definitely has more soul and a country-ish feel to their music though. I guess I kind of progressed to Alabama Shakes after listening to The Black Keys.

Like some other bands/artists playing Coachella this year, Alabama Shakes also have a new album due out soon after the festival (the week after Weekend 2 to be exact). The sophomore album is called Sound & Color and the group has already released two singles from it, “Gimme All Your Love” and “Don’t Wanna Fight”, but I doubt those will be the only new tracks the band plays in Indio. This year Alabama Shakes joins Coachella for the first time in a minor headlining role. They play Friday on both weekends. There’s not that many bands I have on my must-see list for Friday, but Alabama Shakes is one of them. I remember wanting to see them in 2012, but not having anyone to go with (at that point I wasn’t too keen on going places by myself). So now I can finally fulfill those wishes.

Song recommendations:

1. Hold On

2.Don’t Wanna Fight

3. Hang Loose

4. Always Alright

5. You Ain’t Alone

6. Be Mine

7. I Found You

Coachella Band Preview: Florence + the Machine

It’s close to the one month countdown to Coachella Weekend One which means it’s time to ramp up your music listening. It also means it’s time to talk about another band playing the festival this year. This group out of the U.K. has been making a name for themselves since the release of their first album Lungs. With the anticipation of the release of their third album slated for this June, Florence + the Machine is sure to put on a killer set at Coachella this April.

Florence Welch and her friend Isabella “Machine” Summers are the founding members of the group which started in 2007. Along with Robert Ackroyd, Chris Hayden, Tom Monger, and Mark Saunders, the band released their first album in July of 2009. It sold over 100,000 copies in a month and debuted at #1 on the U.K. charts. The BBC supported the band and played a big role in the attention they received upon the release of their album. After touring, playing plenty of festivals, receiving award nominations (including a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist) and a few awards since the release of Lungs, Florence + the Machine released their sophomore album Ceremonials in October 2011. The album received much praise and gave more attention to the already well-known band. They received two more Grammy nominations, VMA nominations, Brit Award nominations, and other award nominations in the years post-Ceremonials release.

In 2012 Florence + the Machine played their first Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival in a minor headlining role. This year it’s no different. Their blend of soulful and dark indie rock will be flowing through the large crowds in Indio in a little over a month with hits like “Dog Days Are Over”, “Shake It Out”, and “What the Water Gave Me”. I’m sure they’ll be playing some new material like their already released first single off their new album “What Kind of Man”. Their set is bound to be a favorite among festival-goers. It’ll be worth checking out.

So check out these songs in the meantime to get you ready:

1. “Dog Days Are Over”

2. “Shake It Out”

3. “No Light, No Light”

4. “Spectrum”

5. “Cosmic Love”

6. “Howl”

7. “Only If For A Night”

8. “Kiss With A Fist”

9. “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”

10. “What the Water Gave Me”

2015 Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival Lineup Release

With the new year upon us, only a few months remain until spring and summer. What seems to have become a bigger deal in recent years during these seasons at least according to my perspective are music festivals. I mean up until 4 years ago or so all I knew of was the Vans Warped Tour (travels all over the country) which I had attended from 2005-2011 and the Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey, which is no longer in existence. Apparently musical festivals, a lot of which last several days, are a big deal.

Some of the biggest in the country are Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois, South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee, and Coachella in Indio, California. Of course if you want to get global we could also include Glastonbury in England. On the east coast (where I reside), Firefly (Dover, Delaware) and Governor’s Ball (New York, New York) seem to be getting some acclaim. On the west coast, I’ve heard some pretty good things about Sasquatch (Gorge, Washington). Then again, there’s plenty of other festivals for specific types of music as well.

When it comes to all these festivals, those who look forward to attending anticipate the lineup announcements, and for those who plan on attending Coachella, the lineup was released 2 days ago. Since Coachella is probably the biggest and most acclaimed festival in the U.S., I just wanted to take the time to feature the lineup.  It’s also pretty important to me because for the first time ever I will be attending the festival during Weekend 1 (yes this festival got so big it is now two consecutive weekends) and I want to discuss what I expect from the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival 2015.

The Headliners: AC/DC, Jack White, Drake

These headliners are always front of the rumor mill for weeks leading up to the lineup announcement. With this lineup of headliners and often with Coachella headliners we’re given a blend of different types of artists. AC/DC is old-school, classic rock. From what I’ve read this may be one of the last times they even play a show together, so it’s bound to be a special experience. Plus it’s a guarantee that everyone knows their songs and will gladly sing along as they shred Friday night in the desert. This will be Jack White’s first time playing as a solo artist at Coachella (he played as a member of the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather). He’s also a rock guy and with being a well-known musician, plus the success of Lazaretto he seemed destined to headline the event. Lastly, rap artist, Drake, will be closing out the list of headliners Sunday night. As stated, Coachella seems to get many music styles in their yearly lineups. Having big name rappers headline the festival is nothing new (Kanye West, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, and Dr. Dre have previously headlined) but being given a top spot for a rapper is quite the honor. His set is already being referred to as one of the most highly anticipated sets of the weekend. With Drake’s success, I’m sure he won’t disappoint.

The Other Highly Billed Performers (aka the next 2 lines on each day of the poster): Tame Impala, Interpol, Steely Dan, Alesso, Alabama Shakes, Ride, Nero, the Weeknd, Axwell ^ Ingrosso, alt-J, Belle & Sebastian, Ratatat, Hozier, Florence & the Machine, Kaskade, Ryan Adams, David Guetta, St. Vincent, Azealia Banks, Flying Lotus, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, Lykke Li, DJ Snake, Porter Robinson, Caribou, Flosstradamus, Bad Religion, SBTRKT, FKA Twigs, Tyler the Creator, Father John Misty, the War on Drugs, Deorro, Marina and the Diamonds, Fitz and the Tantrums, Brand New, Madeon, Stromae, Kygo, Odesza, Gesaffelstein, RAC, Lil B

Obviously I can’t go into discussion about each of these bands, but as I stated twice already, Coachella puts a lineup together of all different styles of music and this year is no different. I do have to mention Steely Dan and Ride, which along with AC/DC make up some pretty old acts. Out of this group I’m most looking forward to Alabama Shakes, alt-J, Belle & Sebastian, Florence & the Machine, St. Vincent, RAC, and Brand New. I’d also be interested in checking out Ride (I really know nothing except for “Vapour Trail” because of The Perks of Being A Wallflower (the book)), Hozier (will definitely check them out if there’s time because it’ll be a fun set, but I did see them last year at the Sweetlife Festival and they’re not high on my list of faves), Bad Religion (I don’t know too much of their stuff but another old school band I listened to in college on occasion), Father John Misty (I just wanna hear “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”), Fitz and the Tantrums (good band but like Hozier I saw them at Sweetlife), and Tame Impala (they’re alright and I own an album, but again not one of my faves).

2-3 years ago I was pretty hyped on Alabama Shakes so I’m looking forward to their set and hearing Brittany Howard kill the vocals. I just got alt-J’s latest album on vinyl and I’ve been a fan of a selection of their songs for a couple years. Belle & Sebastian have been around for awhile. I passed up the opportunity to seem them in Pittsburgh last summer and I’m kind of looking forward to singing along to “Boy with the Arab Strap”. Out of all the bands playing I think I’m looking forward to seeing Florence & the Machine the most. Florence Welch has some insane pipes. I have both of their albums on vinyl and with a third coming out soon, it looks like I’ll have to make that purchase before I fly out to SoCal. I’m not a huge St. Vincent fan but it’s mostly because I haven’t really listened to a ton of her music. I know a few songs and I really enjoy those so I’m gonna have to prep for this one. I still like her enough to add her to my list of most anticipated acts. I was hooked on the song “Cheap Sunglasses” by RAC this past summer and I downloaded a few other songs since then. I plan on learning more in the three months until Coachella so I’m ready for what I think will be a fun set. Finally, Brand New. I could make a whole post about Brand New and I probably will at some point. I’ve liked Brand New since I was 15 years old. Since my second musical enlightenment (refer back to the post about that), I’ve fallen out of listening to them (unless I feel like playing some “Seventy Times Seven” to myself on guitar). I’ve seen them three times already and enjoyed each experience. Out of all the bands playing Coachella though, I know the most songs by Brand New. It’ll definitely be a throwback for me and I guarantee everyone at that set will most likely be feeling the same nostalgia I’ll feel. It’s gonna be fun.

The Rest: Caribou, Todd Terje and the Olsens, Angus & Julia Stone, Hot Natured, George Ezra, Squarepusher, Kiesza, Action Bronson, Gorgon City, Reverend Horton Heat, Sylvan Esso, Kimbra, Vic Mensa, Erol Alkan, Kele, Cloud Nothings, Keys N Krates, MK, Pete Tong, Ab-Soul, Haerts, Eagulls, Allah-Las, Alvin Risk, Chris Malinchak, Jon Hopkins, Oliver Heldens, Ryan Hemsworth, Jason Bentley, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, Marques Wyatt, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Los Rakas, Run the Jewels, Tycho, Chet Faker, Kasabian, Drive Like Jehu, Swans, Milky Chance, Toro y Moi, Jungle, New World Punx, Clean Bandit, Glass Animals, Royal Blood, Alison Wonderland, the Gaslamp Killer Experience, Loco Dice, Danny Tenaglia, Antemasque, Parquet Courts, Gramatik, Lights, What So Not, Yellow Claw, DJ Harvey, Tale of Us, Yelle, Andrew McMahon, Carl Graig, Phox, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Cashmere Cat, Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich + Fussible, Tourist, Benjamin Booker, Matthew Koma, Perfume Genius, Jamestown Revival, Bad Suns, Ruen Brothers, Bixel Boys, Andrea Olivia, Ryn Weaver, Radkey, Coasts, Until the Ribbon Breaks, Circa Survive, Jenny Lewis, Desaparecidos, Jamie xx, Martin Solveig, Duke Dumont, Mac DeMarco, Vance Joy, Built to Spill, J.E.S.&S (Jack Master, Eats Everything, Skream & Seth Troxler), Panda Bear, Kaytranada, R3hab, St. Lucia, Dirty South, OFF!, Charles Bradley, Philip Selway, Cedric Gervais, Claude Von Stroke, Touché Amoré, Joyce Manor, Angel Olsen, John Talabot, Tiger and Woods, Dubfire, Sturgill Simpson, Annie Mac, Chicano Batman, MØ, Sloan, Doc Martin, Saint Motel, The Orwells, The Cribs, tINI, Ben Klock, Night Terrors of 1927

Some of the bands listed here might also be considered highly billed as well but I just listed everything in poster order priority. Out of this group, I’d like to see Angus & Julia Stone, Milky Chance, Jungle, Desaparecidos, Vance Joy, St. Lucia, and Andrew McMahon. Even though they’re not listed as a top performer, I really like St. Lucia and I missed them at Sweetlife last year because I was trying to secure a good spot for Lana Del Rey. I just received their album on vinyl for Christmas and I love it so I’m definitely making these guys a priority. Next on the priority list from this group of bands is Desaparecidos which I never listened to/heard of until today (listening as I write this actually). I’m kind of upset I haven’t because they’re a side project band of the all too well-known Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. I always thought it would be cool to see Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes and I don’t plan on missing out at my opportunity. Count the rest of the bands I listed above as ones I would see if there was time/nothing else going on. It’s not like Andrew McMahon is going to play a bunch of Something Corporate songs for me to jam to (although “Konstantine” would be devine), I only know the most well-known song by both Milky Chance and Vance Joy, and Angus & Julia Stone are great to listen to on a long drive but I only know a few songs and they’re not one of my favorites. Jungle is borderline. It depends how much I listen to them in the coming months/how much I enjoy listening to them but I do really love the song “Time”.

As far as this lineup goes, I think it could be better based on my own tastes (I liked last year’s lineup a lot). However, I still feel fortunate that I’m going and get to experience what Coachella is all about. Who knows though. There might be other bands I check out and end up loving that I add to my list of bands I want to see when I attend this epic 3 day extravaganza with my awesome cousin, Kelly, who agreed to go with me. You can bet I’ll be prepping for the next 3 months and you can also expect a review of my experience/the bands post-festival. Please feel free to comment with any bands you think I would like or should listen to because I’m all about good prep suggestions. The countdown to this famed festival got real with the lineup release Tuesday, and I can’t believe I actually get to be there instead of watching the stream on my computer this year. Until then, it’s music prep time. See you in the desert!

California Here We Come

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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