Nathaniel Rateliff >> Night Sweats in Los Angeles [Greek Theatre]

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats >> It was a night I didn’t expect and for that it was a night I will always remember.

Nathanial Rateliff

If you’ve never been to the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, you’re missing out. It’s an outdoor venue built in 1930 with an over 5,700 seating capacity that includes everything from the pit to private dining tables to general seating that climbs up into the hills. It’s a bit like the Hollywood Bowl, but more outdoorsy feeling and with a more lax and intimate crowd. The staff is pretty amazing as well, with a special shout out to Jessica from Goldenvoice and the rest of the crew for taking good care of me. The addition of the Santa Ana winds picking up steadily on the first day of fall only enhanced the experience.

Nathanial Rateliff

That being said, it was much to my surprise when my lying, cheating ex jumped into the seat next to mine to say hello, as he was sitting a row back behind me. Out of all the thousands of seats, he had to walk into mine. It was awkward and uncomfortable, though went as well as it could and I hoped that my focus on covering the show would overpower my desire to run.

Fortunately Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats are fucking incredible and they made it easy to dance along and not pay attention to what was happening behind me, which was apparently a show in itself. A couple songs in, my ex taps me to hand me an unexpected glass of wine, then quickly ran off. The group behind and next to me heard the whole story of how he was my ex and his new girlfriend [whom I never saw so can’t confirm] flipped out and made a scene. The young woman next to me confirmed she was ready to punch her out because she was ruining everyone’s experience. This ordeal ended with both groups giving me high fives and telling me I won. And I didn’t even have to compete!

Nathanial Rateliff

So thankfully, after those few uncomfortable songs I was able to enjoy the remainder of the show as I intended which included lots of dancing, clapping, and cheering along with the rest of the tipsy attendees. There were a few shout outs from the band to their Denver fans, the mention that one of their early shows began at 6:30 but doors opened at 7 [a friendly reminder that they were once unknown], and several new songs that we got to hear for the first time. The exceptionally catchy ‘I Did It’ was a particular favorite and I can’t wait to play it on repeat in the near future!

Nathanial Rateliff

What I love about Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats is that they manage to take a very folksy Americana sound and turn it into something light and cheerful that can be played on mainstream radio yet still hold true to their roots. Their music is genuinely happy, upbeat, and engaging. They don’t have to tell people to clap their hands, they just do!

The proximity of the venue in an upper middle class neighborhood required a hard stop at 11, which worked out just fine for my mid-week early wake up struggle. I left the venue happy, lighthearted, and extremely thrilled that that ‘Son of a Bitch/<Got> Me a Drink’ and all was right in the world.



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All Rap Matters >> Atmosphere and Brother Ali in San Francisco [The Masonic]

Atmosphere >> On the Tuesday following yet more police shootings, in Charlotte and Tulsa, I found myself at The Masonic Theater in San Francisco for a hip hop show on a school night. What I took home, was an education taught by the mic in the hands of Brother Ali and Atmosphere.


For those not familiar with Brother Ali his rhetoric and songs shedding light on inequality in America are nothing new. They are the backbone of his music and more over him as a performer and as a man. Like Atmosphere, he hails from Minneapolis. He is a Muslim, an albino, and the father of a 16-year old African American son. Although his albinism affects his vision, one can only imagine he has seen some shit in his 39 years. He performed songs like 2007’s ‘Uncle Sam Goddamn’ and 2012’s ‘Mourning in America’ may have never rung truer or hit as close to home as they did Tuesday. It wasn’t all doom and gloom with songs like ‘Forrest Whitaker’ had the crowd grooving and moving along. The self-deprecating lyrics mocked his albinism while praising its namesake who also overcame other people’s preconceptions of what greatness looks like. The most poignant part of his set though, had no beat or tune. He stopped the turn tables for a moment and recited a new piece entitled ‘Dear Black Son’. It was literally a letter he wrote to his 16 year old boy about becoming a black man in today’s racially charged America. It wasn’t preachy, attacking, or over the top. It was filled with worry and pain and love; themes most too many Americans know all too well these days. It might not have been a raging party, but the set was crisp, the rhymes tight, and the moment right for Brother Ali’s sermons.

Brother Ali

The back half of the evening was brought home by Atmosphere, the other half of the Twin Cities’ hip hop royalty. Although less political in nature, the music of rapper Slug [Sean Daley] and DJ/Producer Ant [Anthony Davis] still has a darker shade to it. They rap about problems that transcend race or current events. The themes of struggling with self-image, relationships, drug and alcohol abuse came through clearly if not overly present as they performed ‘God Loves Ugly’ and ‘Shoulda Known’ right out of the gate. After doing this together for more than two decades their songs still seem fresh, probably because the passion for the music can be felt in every verse and track as if it was the first time they played it. Now in his mid-40’s, Sean ‘Slug’ Daley seems almost rejuvenated on stage, with an appreciation for everything and a fuck you we’re still here attitude fueling the performance. Talib Kwali or even Eminem he is not. The rhymes come slow and deliberate, but the lyrics are clear and sharp as a razor blade in a cadence as smooth as a shave. Playing with the audience between songs and even freestyling, looking for things that rhyme with Kaepernick the SF crowd was treated to a well-rehearsed and engaging performance. They left them wanting more, and held the hangover anthem ‘Sunshine’ up their sleeve for the predictable encore. The song was just the upswing and the possibility of hope for a better day everyone needed that night at the concert and beyond the walls of the Masonic.


After my last rap concert, Brother Ali and Atmosphere helped restore my faith in hip hop. It’s not always about having an entourage on stage, about blunts, bitches and Patron. Those things are all cool though but have their time & place. Tuesday reminded me that rap can be about lyrics with a real message. It can educate. It can knock everything down and raise you back up with it. It can be about making a connection between and with the audience, the performer and the music all at once. Brother Ali and Atmoshphere are vets of the rap game for this long because they do just that. Catch these class acts on their Freshwater Fly Fishermen Tour running through the end of the year and most likely enlightening a city near you soon!



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Crystal Castles in Phoenix [The Pressroom] >> Where’s Alice?

On my way to the venue, I had learned that Alice had been replaced. I was aware they had broken up for a reason that established Alice as one of my favorite musicians of all time [she left because the most genuine and honest electronic act ever wasn’t genuine enough]; but I assumed they simply got back together. I tried my best to be optimistic…..but who the fuck is going to replace Alice Glass?

Crystal Castles

Crystal Castles has certainly evolved since their debut album in 2008, both stylistically and philosophically. The first album is challenging. On its surface you could describe it as the tortured sounds a Sega Genesis would make if you waterboard it after making it stay awake for 3 days. In fact, Ethan Kath has described why he made certain decisions on that first album, ‘To weed out the wimps, to annoy the posers. We are saying, ‘We are not for you’. The work mellowed out more and more over the subsequent releases, which I am assuming contributed to Alice’s departure. Taking their discography as a whole and compared to themselves, this progress is easy to see; but what makes Crystal Castles so special is how you compare their timeline to what was happening with the rest of electronic music. Introduce someone to their albums and have them guess in which year they were released, I would be surprised if anyone could guess. They remain independent of space-time, nostalgic with their 8-bit glitches, omni-present with their aggressive beats indicative of late 2000 electronic music where the masses were just discovering dubstep, and futuristic with vocals that sound like a choir of cybernetic angels. This last album struck me the same way as many bands facing an identity crises [see Hail to the Thief]. It wants to continue to move forward. Much like their later albums, it has clarity, it is melodic, it wants to have a point but in many tracks I feel as if Ethan is trying to harken back to the first album he described as ‘the most annoying sounds for Alice to scream over’. This may sound as a negative statement, but it’s not…I am older…they are older…Alice is gone…Edith is here…the new album is a new beginning without forgetting what has already ended.

Edith and Ethan did not say a single word their entire set. No introduction, no goodbye, no thank you Cleveland….and honestly I would have been let down if they did as they always appealed to my strong anti-poser sentiment. This needs to be clarified as anti-poser does not mean anti-establishment. Teenage goths rebelling against conformity by spending what I can only assume takes hours each day to put on a non-conformist costume is literally the most poser thing you can do. Picture a grown ass young adult looking in the bathroom mirror listening to music that tells them to ‘fuck society’ while their hair straightener is warming up. Someone who listens to good music, deep cuts, songs not ready for the masses but can also say that last Bieber album had a few good tracks [because it did] is the true definition of not being a poser. Crystal Castles always embodied this for me, they are subversive but because they genuinely wanted to be and they only want to create things they like.

Edith wore what look liked a Soviet Union commandant’s hat, with a baggy black t shirt over an even baggier long sleeve t-shirt. She wore sweat pants, army boots and shades that looked like Blublockers. She looked exactly like Nathan Holverson from high school. Yes I am aware only I will understand that specific reference but you know the kid from high school I’m talking about. I believe Ethan looked the same way he always does, I can’t be sure as I could not take my eyes of off Edith. At first glance, it looked like someone’s best Alice Glass impression [minus the spitting]. It could easily have been written off as that, but as she took control of new songs and old, it was clear as day that she was just being Edith, and that just happened to be a lot like Alice. Her attitude screamed unbridled passion about ideas and themes she cares about while relentlessly not giving a fuck about anything you or I might deem important. Throughout the set, Ethan stayed nearly motionless, bobbing his head gently to his own explosive beats, it was an appropriate counterpoint to the aggressive Iggy pop like stances Edith would take while wailing into the microphone drenched in sweat.

And while Edith lived up to the timberland sized shoes she had to fill, its Ethan’s music that was truly the star of the show. It was melodic, ecclesiastical and completely in-organic like the kind of music machines would make when they want to dance and they think no one is watching. When paired with Edith singing lullaby’s into 219 different microphone effects, it sounded like a gentle robot, high on cocaine, tucking you in at night.  The lighting package strobed with each syncopated beat making us feel like we were slipping in and out of this dimension.

Change is inevitable, and rather difficult to weather. Carving your own identity when your predecessor was a master of individual uncompromised expression can be rather daunting, especially with an audience that would be hard pressed to give you the benefit of the doubt. Is Crystal Castles better? Are they worse? Are they different or the same? Well, as Alice, Ethan, and Edith would probably answer…..Who gives a fuck you poser?



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The Kills >> Killing It in Los Angeles [The Wiltern]

The Kills >> I fucking love The Kills. And so does half of LA.

Picture a venue entirely filled with the rocker chic elite of the modern punk world. Think the everlasting Kate Moss [sorry, Jamie Hince, I know she’s your ex-wife] meets Hollywood, thrown in with a perfect blend of DGAF attitude and post-sex hair with dark eyeliner and a seductive glare. These people are the cool of the cool, and this is just standing outside the merch line.

The Kills

A short two minutes after the scheduled set time and Hotel [Hince] is heard strumming the opening keys to ‘Heart Of A Dog', followed by VV’s [Alison Mosshart’s] recognizable vocals and vibrational jamming into the microphone. The crowd is going nuts. Don’t forget this is LA, where nobody reacts to anything. This, my friends, is a big deal.

The Kills

This is the third time I’ve had the privilege of seeing The Kills this year alone. The first was at Coachella [where I declared my love to VV’s perfect rock style]. I saw them again a short few weeks later at a private KRCW event at my buddy’s office. It was extremely intimate and again filled with A-list supermodels [I won’t name names, but we all know who you are]. This weekend’s venue may have been my favorite just for the sake that this was specifically their tour with a full set time and stage, not to mention a 4-track encore capped off with ‘Sour Cherry’, aka the song that first hooked me 8 years ago when I heard them on Gossip Girl [my pride is not faltered].

The Kills

What I love about this unexpected duo is their shameless DGAF attitude [again, a theme here] mixed with an authentic love of music and creating something that blends into an intentional synchronized sound. Jamie and Alison have a beautiful harmony of working separately yet together at the same time. They each own their portion of the stage and their particular musical element, but as you can see in the photo have a loving respect for one another without stepping on the others’ toes. Neither obstacles of age nor continent separation can stop these two from making sweet music together.

The Kills

The Kills The Kills

The best part of The Kills is their ability to keep Rock ‘n Roll alive in an era where EDM and Pop music dominate the mainstream. The fact that this duo can sell out a show on a Saturday night of a long holiday weekend—in LA, no less—is proof enough that they are relevant and that we, the people, are prepared for more.

‘Time ain't gonna cure you Honey,

Time don't give a shit’.

Setlist: Heart of a Dog * U.R.A. Fever * Kissy Kissy * Hard Habit to Break * Impossible Tracks * Black Balloon * Doing It To Death * Baby Says * Tape Song * Goodnight Bad Morning * Whirling Eye * Pots And Pans * Monkey 23 * No Wow * ENCORE: That Love * Siberian Nights * Future Starts Slow * Sour Cherry



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Crystal Castles are coming back to Phoenix in September!

It has only been about 5 months since Crystal Castles has graced the desert with a live appearance but the upcoming show at The Pressroom on SEPT-16 is a highly anticipated show for sure. Here's a few reasons why you should get your ass downtown to check it out.

Crystal Castles

1. Ethan Katz is a musical genius. He plays every instrument, has a brilliant ear and as a producer, no one is as innovative as he. His technique is modern yet retro and you'll be blow away with what comes out of the studio. But what he does live will make your fucking head pop off. Don't you want your head to pop the fuck off?

2. Crystal Castles will be fresh the release of their upcoming album Amnesty (I), which drops in the states on AUG-19. This is also the first album Kath is releasing w/ Edith Frances who took over as vocalist after Alice Glass left the band. It will be very interesting to experience the brink of a new era of Crystal Castles live and direct  on the forefront of Fall.

3. Speaking of Fall, there's no place better than the desert this time of year. The balls hot weather is withering away and the influx of great shows at a variety of venues is practically upon us finally.

4. Venues? Yes please! This show is at the MVV sleeper pick The Pressroom downtown on Madison. This spot has been open a while but hasn't really had an opportunity to show Phoenix what's up. With a killer name like Crystal Castles fronting the bill, this should be the coming out party that lets the desert know it can rival the best.

5. Finally, shows like this were meant for the weekend and what better way to spend a Friday night going hard and immersed in 16-bit noise and seizure lights, right? No work in the morning. No class the next day. No excuses not to invest in a night like this.

See you at the show!



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Fighting the Power on Sunset [Hollywood Palladium]

People, people we are the same, No we're not the same, 'Cause we don't know the game, What we need is awareness, we can't get careless. -- ‘Fight the Power’ by Public Enemy

Fight The Power

I’m not going to lie, I was a bit anxious to go to the Art of Rap Festival at the Hollywood Palladium this weekend. Partly for being a little white blonde girl, partly for being at a rap show in the middle of the Black Lives Matter movement in a city known for its history of racial discrimination [Rodney King, anyone?]. I didn’t expect anything bad to happen, but neither did all those people who have died recently. I just hoped for a good, clean, awesome show.

My nerves weren’t eased any by the most intense security check I’ve ever experienced. Goodbye lip gloss and eye drops, I hope we are all a little safer now after your sacrifice.

I arrived inside as Mobb Deep was about to take the stage and was impressed with how tight they sounded, though slightly underwhelmed by the lack of visual entertainment as a result of the short set. But people were still coming in, and the cloud of ‘smoke’ was getting bigger and bigger.

Ice-T appeared a short 5 minutes later with everything I was hoping for—demanding that I ‘Raise the ‘W’ along with all my other West Siders, watching a young shirtless dude C-walk across the stage, a bunch of the other artists chilling behind the DJ booth giving handshakes and hugs, all topped off with an older gentleman in a full white suit/white pimp hat getup while dancing to the beat of his own drum. Let’s also not forget Ice-T’s SVU reference because he’s a ‘good motherfucking actor’.

I expected Ice-T to make some political statements regarding the BLM movement, but all he focused on was to ‘keep your head up’ and pray for better in the years to come. There was nothing angry or specific in his verbiage, only the acknowledgment that things aren’t great right now but we can’t let that keep us down. Thank you for that, Ice-T. Thank you.

Next up was EPMD, but after the previous set they got drowned out. I think part of it had to with the fact that their songs are so widely copied that it was hard to remember that they are the originals.

Last up was Public Enemy, the group I was most excited to see [since Naughty by Nature wasn’t playing the LA show]. They did not disappoint! With the familiar holler of ‘Yeeeeaaaa Boy-eee!’ resonating throughout the venue, you just knew that Flava Flav was there to party.

At the end of it all, I walked away with a newfound respect for the genre, and felt a little silly for thinking things would be different from any other type of show. In fact, everyone I met was pretty darn nice. Or really, really high. I love the Hollywood Palladium, but I think a show like this would have benefited from an outdoor setting like one would find at FYF Fest or something along those lines, especially if it means having all the artists perform on one day instead of varying by city. The vibe was just a little off for some reason, even though the artists themselves were fantastic.



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Too Short and Fat Joe come up short in San Francisco [Regency Ballroom]

Saturday night, the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco was the site of The Summer Classic headlined by Fat Joe and Bay Area’s own Too $hort. The concert was put on by Empire Distribution, a local record label, in honor of CEO and founder Ghazi Shami’s birthday. Billed as The Summer Classic, what those in attendance were treated to was a classic bait and switch.

Fat Joe

The first red flag came earlier Saturday afternoon when the venue sent out a notice stating Fat Joe’s set had been moved up to 840pm so to please arrive early. They were right he did come on at 840pm. Fat Joe did about a 4 minute montage of, ‘All I Do Is Win’, ‘All The Way Up’, ‘What’s Luv’ and ‘Lean Back’.  My use of the word montage is generous at best as we got no more than a minute of the chorus of each song, and he spent more time sweating on stage than actually singing or rapping. Then he called Ghazi the birthday boy out, where they presented each other with platinum plaques for ‘All The Way Up’, and then disappeared stage right. At the time, we assumed this was a great tease of what was to come, as crowd was hyped and yearning for more. Oh how I wish we’d been right. Over the next four hours, yes four hours we were treated to a full slate of ‘up and coming’ artists from Empire, go figure. Stop me if you’ve heard of any of these ‘rising stars’; Tay Way, Show Banga, Rexx Life Raj, J Stalin, Rayven Justice…No? Well then you must know; D-Lo, Colonel Loud, Philthy Rich, or Luke Nasty. Ya, I didn’t think so, me neither. They weren’t all terrible, but in most cases I’ve bought random CD’s from hustlas on the street that have more potential. As midnight closed in, a glimmer or hope shimmered in the building. We noticed the DJ playing some Jim Jones songs. Problem is we didn’t realize until like 3 songs in Jim Jones was on stage ‘performing’. The lack of a leading MC or Hype man throughout the evening often lead to us having no idea who was on stage. And again pretty much only muttering along to the chorus Jim Jones only gave us snippets of ‘Pop Champagne’ and ‘We Fly High’.

All The Way Up

After all that, with only Too $hort left to perform, the crowd still held on for redemption. The hometown hero would surely save the day and get the crowd hella hyphy. Too $hort started out strong performing with an actual band and backup singers. I think we even got two full songs including personal favorite ‘Gettin’ It’ until the performance turned south the way of all others that evening. It veered into the gutter quickly with the 50 year old rapper graphically picking out and hitting on 18 to 19 year old girls in the crowd. I don’t even want to repeat some of the filthy things he was saying. And it wasn’t in jest, and just came off creepy, sounding much more like a petterass than a playa. Also by this point he’d given up rapping, handing off singing duties to his cousin, whoever the f that is, while he smoked blunts and sipped patron from the bottle. By this point it was past 1am and there were probably more cronies and people on stage than were left in the crowd, and we blew the whistle and called it a night and showed ourselves the door.

Too Short

To their credit, I will say the most redeeming thing about the evening was the crowd. They paid good money to be entertained and were going to have a good time no matter what. Any chance they were given, most often when the house DJ played radio hits in between artists, people were getting down. The outfits and the dancing led to some of the best people watching I have ever been a part of. And for so clearly being scammed into a glorified talent showcase everyone maintained a positive and fun vibe.

That being said fuck Empire, what a fucking scam. And to Fat Joe and Too $hort, you should be embarrassed. Both artists are much too successful and talented to need to throw their name on such a pathetic money grab, especially you Todd Shaw aka Too $hort. This is the Bay, the town you came from and the town that built you. You should be most ashamed of all. I would rather catch fucking Pokemon than catch another rap show like this, but we made the best out of it as did all in attendance. And I think I speak for everyone from Saturday night when I say, ‘Happy Birthday Ghazi, F you!’.



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