Spotify Playlist >> Life Is Beautiful 2014

Life Is Beautiful 2014 >> is nearly upon us and if you're having a hard time containing those pre-festival ants in your pants prior to the best of fests in fabulous Las Vegas then let this glorious Spotify playlist be your solace.

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Yeah, the Life Is Beautiful lineup this year is pretty fucking stellar and what better way to pre-party than a 204-track, 14-hour compilation built from the bangers of the ball? Feel free to follow the shit out of this playlist. See you in downtown Vegas!

[related: Life Is Beautiful >> 2014 Lineup]

LIfe Is Beautiful 2014 >> Playlist


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Every concert addict and ticket hoarder needs this Create-Your-Own-Cover Ticket Album

If you're a concert addict or festival junkie mixed with a little bit of a memento hoarder mixed in then you need this Create-Your-Own-Cover Ticket Album.

For the better part of the last few decades, my ever growing collection of ticket stubs had been stored in an old Nike shoebox from prep school. Not only were these precious musical memories scattered and disorganized as shit, they were cohabiting that box with a hot pink pacifier, some dead glow sticks, some fucking Vicks VapoRub and other embarrassing reminders of what my last few years of being a teenager was about.

Now the hundreds of small paper trophies that allowed me access to the greatest moments in live music addiction over the years are now properly organized and preserved in a simple yet very cool album.

Each album holds 96 standard size ticket stubs and it's completely customizable since both the front and back covers are also see-through sleeves to display pictures, flyers or small posters up to 7.75" x 8.5".

The Create-Your-Own-Cover Ticket Album is only $10-ish so if you are or someone you know is a live music whore like me, get after this now [I'm now in need of a 3rd album sooo just saying]. Don't let your beloved 311, Wu-Tang and AFI tickets get greasy from eucalyptus ointment like I did.



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Gaslight Anthem >> Set List Feng Shui in Tempe [Marquee Theatre]

The Gaslight Anthem >> rolled through the desert again on Monday as they sweep up the left coast on their Get Hurt album tour. Wednesday they headlined a fuck yeah fantastic show at Marquee Theatre in Tempe that also featured the new identity of Against Me! who are tagging along on Gaslight's city to city journey this Fall.

The Gaslight Anthem >> Marquee Theatre

It seems like just yesterday the Gaslight Anthem was on tour for The '59 Sound in like 2008 when they crushed a set at Martini Ranch in Scottsdale for 100 or so people. That show transformed me from listener to super fan pretty much instantly.

The other night in Tempe, a few songs from that killer album blissfully made their way into a set list that was predominantly Get Hurt heavy, understandably. Their new album is really good but it's not as upbeat as I'm accustomed to with GLA and that's the type of shit I love to experience at their live shows. They did, however, manage to shred to the max and keep it as upbeat as they could so adding in a few storytelling sessions, the show turned out incredible.

After 'Mulholland Drive', lead singer Brian Fallon told us how happy they were to visit Tempe again. They had just wrapped up the California leg of the tour and he appreciates how not-California it is out here in the desert, whatever that means.

Brian also acknowledged the 20-something 20-somethings front and center stage, shouting out their favorite songs they wanted to hear. He then soothed their angst with assurance that all those belted track names were indeed on their set list, confirming he would get to all of them but the sequence was in such an order that aligned with their set list feng shui - which he explained later was nothing merely than a jambalaya of songs they like to play. Well played, Brian and well played they did.

They played with so much genuine energy in Tempe that night. Not like they were dancing around everywhere about the stage, but the energy they projected with each instruments' sound and the passionate vocals just energized everyone in the joint. Much different from their set at Coachella last year, which was pretty mellow - or maybe it was me and I just wasn't feeling it since it was Sunday afternoon when I was at the peak of the 3rd installment of my sweaty hellish hangover.

[related: Coachella 2013 >> Weekend 1 Strategy + Awards]

Oh and they ended their set with a cover of The Who - that 'Teenage Wasteland' song which I just found out is not really called that and is actually called 'Baba O'Riley' which I don't really understand but whatever. That fucking ruled and they fucking rule so def check these guys out when they play at a venue near you.

P.S. Against Me! was really really good too but it took me a few songs for my ears and eyes to get over the mindfuck that is newly transformed frontwoman Laura Jane Grace still singing in pre-Transgender Dysphoria Blues frontman Tom Gabel's voice - you know, from back in the New Wave days when she was a dude. Get past that and then you'll be able to enjoy your face getting shredded the fuck off.

Setlist: Stay Written * Handwritten * Rollin' and Tumblin' * Mulholland Drive * Helter Skeleton * Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis? * Old Haunts * 45 * Underneath the Ground * The Diamond Church Street Choir * Get Hurt * Even Cowgirls Get the Blues * Stray Paper * Ain't That a Shame * She Loves You * Dark Places * ENCORE: Wooderson * Film Noir * Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts * The '59 Sound * Baba O'Riley



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The Pixies >> La La Love You in San Francisco [Masonic Auditorium]

Pixies >> The Masonic Auditorium is an impressive piece of architecture with its palatial marble columns and 12-foot statues. The center was built by the Freemasons half a century ago. The same Freemasons who some might say are really a secret society lurking in the shadows and conspiring to rule the world for the  hundreds of years. Well I have uncovered the truth; it appears that the Freemasons have been secretly conspiring to rock the fuck out my ears by hosting the Pixies in their gorgeous auditorium.

Pixies >> San Francisco Masonic Auditorium

We have to remember that Come On Pilgrim, their debut album, landed 27 years ago - when a gallon of gas was 89 cents, when there was 2.2 billion less people on earth, when The Simpsons premiered for the first time. In other words, it was a long fucking time ago. So long ago, that I had just barely figured out how to not piss myself in the middle of the night.  The Pixies now are older, fatter, balder and greyer. Yet, as the set opens with the nuclear power chords ofU-Mass’ and as Frank Black shrieks ‘IT’S EDUCATIONAAALLL!’,  you know that while decades have passed, they haven’t missed a beat. They are not just dialing this in, and that although they must be sick of playing these songs, they respect how much we love them.

Their set was 34 songs including encore. An average song length of like 2 minutes is why they are able to squeeze in so many tracks while still ending before sunrise. Having not revisited their catalog in some time, their set showcased how different each song was while still being undeniably a Pixies song. This is what makes Frank Black such an important figure in music history. He took his own alternative influences, warped in his endlessly malcontent, sexually frustrated mind and produced an iconic, singular sound that sparked the great alternative boom of the nineties.  Kurt Cobain once explained ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’washim ‘trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it. When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily that I should have been in that band—or at least a Pixies cover band.’ The melancholy verse and furiously loud chorus of alternative music simply did not exist in popular music before the Pixies. They would take pop song structure, turn it on its head, play the quiet parts quieter and the louder parts louder. They would blend punk, indie guitar, velvet underground and surf music and cram all of it into a busy 2 minute track, which would be played over and over again for the next 20 years.

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The lineup was noticeably less Kim Deal-y.  Paz Lenchantin has been touring with the Pixies since last January. I must admit at first I was a bit skeptical, with the ah ah ahhh of ‘Gigantic’ and the ooo ooooo of ‘Where Is My Mind?’ being some of my favorite sounds ever, Paz did an amazing job. She didn’t try to take her own spin on such iconic vocals, instead remained wispy and ghostlike just like her predecessor. Joey Santiago was chilling as always, one of the world’s most underrated guitar players. He might not pump out 2000 notes a bar, but the way he bends, his command of tone, the efficiency of his rifts, and the way he uses dissonance makes him a true a master. David Lovering held the backbeat, a master of timing which is required by often stop/start/quiet/loud nature of a Pixies song. He had his time in the spotlight providing the lounge-y vocals to ‘La La Love You’. If you are not familiar with many songs and want to hear an obsessively catchy song that also makes you think what the fuck were they thinking? while listening to it, shake your butt to ‘La La Love You’.

The crowd spanned several generations. There were people my age who discovered The Pixies by sneaking into their older brothers rooms and rummaging through his CD tower, I clearly remember holding up Ice-T’s Body Count in one hand and Trompe Le Monde in the other, deciding which to listen to first. Needless to say, I am glad I picked the album with the fish eyes on it. There were aging Gen X-ers, some quietly and awkwardly dancing, some jumping straight up and down as high and as hard as their old knees could handle [I guess that’s what they did back then], an early 40’s couple next to me would grope like they were teenagers, remembering a time when mortgages, Pinot Grigio and 401k’s didn’t matter nearly as much as making out with that chick I just met who plays bass in a Husker Du cover band. They all were struggling to forget they sold out. There were young college kids connecting to the raw, uncompromising, and uninterested in record sales sound that must be such a novel concept for them. To my right was a young, 20-something Filipino kid, wearing a snapback, Jordan’s and big ass headphones, singing along with some rather deep Pixies cuts like ‘River Euphrates’.  All of us clearly aware that we are seeing one of the most important rock bands to ever exist.  Deep in the mosh pit, as young head-bangers thrashed and pushed their way to 20 year old surf punk songs played faster than death metal on an acoustic guitar, there is a single Gen X-er, starting to grey and having the time of his life jumping and shoving and remembering that although life slows down, priorities change and shit gets real;  there was a time, maybe a long time ago, when you were cool, and cool shit happened, that the amazing memories that now seem like a story you once read or a TV show you say… that it all really happened…and to you no less.

Setlist: U-Mass * Debaser * River Euphrates * Something Against You * Hey * Wave Of Mutilation * Bagboy * Bone Machine * Crackity Jones * Magdalena 318 * Mr. Grieves * I've Been Tired * Brick Is Red * Nimrod's Son * Indie Cindy * Here Comes Your Man * La La Love You * Greens And Blues * Isla De Encanta * Rock Music * Distance Equals Rate Times Time * Cactus * What Goes Boom * Monkey Gone To Heaven * Caribou * Gouge Away * The Sad Punk * Tame * Vamos * Where Is My Mind? * ENCORE: Silver Snail * Ed Is Dead * The Holiday Song * Planet Sound



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Jaded Inc >> Experimenting in San Francisco [The Chapel]

Jaded Inc >> Friday night, I put on my hipster cap and made my way to SF’s mission district for the Mayer Hawthorne show at The Chapel.

Jaded Inc >> San Francisco

Before I get too into the show let me first sing my praises of The Chapel. Such an awesome and unique venue. It is exactly what it sounds like: a church; choir loft, 40 feet high vaulted ceilings and a small intimate main floor perfect for a congregation at any performance. Add in amazing acoustics, lighting and a top notch full service bar with incredibly reasonable and legit cocktails, it’s pretty hard to beat no matter who is on stage. If you’re ever in SF, go see a show there.

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Speaking of who was on stage, I thought it was going to be Mayer Hawthorne who’s hits like ‘The Walk’ and ‘Ain’t Gonna Work Out’ had me ready for his established mix of crooning to R&B and Soul with some Hip-Hop undertones. It turns out this show was his new collaboration with 14KT called Jaded Incorporated. They call their sound Beat Wave which consisted of the pair standing on stage five feet apart behind computers and drum machines. Unfortunately, in my opinion, Daft Punk they are not. I have a MacBook too, but no one wants to pay to see me stand on stage and hit buttons either.

 Jaded Inc >> San FranciscoSome songs had little to no singing and the beats seemed rudimentary and robotic, reminiscent of bad 80s Synth-Pop. At times I could feel the crowd looking around and trying to figure out what was going on just as I was, and the show suffered and felt disconnected.

Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t all bad. Songs that featured more of Hawthorne’s signature voice like ‘Monster’ had the crowd back engaged. They also did a killer cover of Flock of Seagulls’ ‘I Ran’ that had me channeling Harry in Dumb and Dumber yelling at the stage, ‘Then you go and do something like this…AND TOTALLY REDEEM YOURSELF!’

Overall, I am still very glad I went. I get it, these guys are artists, they try new things and I respect the hell out of that. It doesn’t mean they always work or that they have to stick with it forever. Hey, Michael Jordan played baseball for a year but eventually realized his true gift was still on the hardwood. Here’s hoping Mayer Hawthorne can realize the same and returns his focus to singing in the years to come.



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Lykke Li >> Dance Dance Dance on Sunset [Hollywood Palladium]

Lykke Li >> I apologize in advance — this post is largely dedicated to my girl crush for Lykke Li.

Lykke Li >> Palladium

photo c/o Ashley Schaffner

Unrepentant, confident, demanding, vulnerable—all words I would use to describe this magnificent young lady. Her initial stage presence leaves you yearning, begging for more.

She walks on to the blackened stage of the Star Wars-ish Hollywood Palladium, strong, bold; wearing the coney-shoulder pads of her pleather black coat and skinny black bell bottoms.  She belts out her first song, pumping up the eager audience of girls, couples, and rockabillies.

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Lykke takes the stage as though it’s her own, from right to left, getting as close to the crowd as the stage will allow, dancing in place so everyone has the opportunity to get it on film. She puts on a long black pleather trench coat, insisting we ‘Dance Dance Dance'. We pull out our iPhones as lights and dance to the music at her insistence. She feels our bliss and our pain; she is one of us.

Lykke Li >> Palladium

photo c/o Ashley Schaffner

Oh, Lykke. She is our modern day Fiona Apple, with her strength and poise, raw and real. She’s not out there to impress anyone—she’s out there to say it like it is and have us feel what she feels. She wants someone to get her a drink. She wants us to dance; she wants us to be okay. I love her for that.

Lykke Li >> Palladium

photo c/o Ashley Schaffner

I would say more, but why bother? She’s as real as can be, she sounds great, and she has an amazing show at a fantastic venue. I’m disappointed it wasn’t sold out [albeit a Tuesday], because this young Swedish woman is only getting better. But, hey, it only means I get to see her before everyone wants a piece, and I’m fine with that.

Lykke Li >> Palladium

photo c/o Ashley Schaffner



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New Kingston >> One Lovin’ in San Francisco [The Fillmore]

New Kingston >> Brooklyn natives, New Kingston cruised in to San Francisco this weekend as they helped Tribal Seeds wrap up their Representing Summer Tour.

New Kingston >> The Fillmore

For those who have not heard or seen New Kingston before, they truly make their music a family affair. The three brothers, Tahir [keys], Courtney Jr. [drums] & Stephen [guitar] all share in the vocals while their father Courtney Panton Sr. joins in on the bass. Having their roots and heritage based in Jamaica, there was a refreshing and natural sound that can't be duplicated outside the islands.

Don't get me wrong, I love bands like Rebelution and SOJA who continue to spurn an ever-growing audience for new groups in the genre, but once in a while it's nice to hear some good old-fashioned reggae vibes.

[related: Rebelution + SOJA >> Cali Roots 2014]

That being said, this show wasn't steel drums and passing to the left hand side. They brought one of the most versatile and engaging performances I have seen in a long time to The Fillmore. They pled sounds with soul and funk tones, reggae vibes, R&B and slow jams. They also still got that dancehall reggae that had me jumpin’ around all over the place, moving just as crazy as Courtney Jr.'s dreads as he wailed on the drums and he and his brothers got the crowd hyped.

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Throughout all of their different songs, the message and the feeling remained the same: love. Most people hear the term reggae and automatically think of pot and dreadlocks and instantly think they have the music, the people who play it, listen to it and live it pigeonholed. It's really unfortunate, but bands like New Kingston play that music that makes you feel love. Their show from the very start made you feel love for music, love for their performance and energy, love for your girl and love for one another. Please check out their FB page for more info and to see when they'll be bringing the love to a town near you.

Big ups to New Kingston for a great show and for spreading reggae music. One Love!



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