Portugal. The Man at Red Bull Sound Space, KROQ

July 8, 2013
Red Bull Sound Space
KROQ, Los Angeles

What better way to kick off the Monday following a long holiday weekend than with a free show by an amazing band.

Having been to several “radio shows” before, I was a bit skeptical – not of Portugal. The Man‘s performance (I have complete confidence in that), but of the venue and format of the show. Any concerns I had were eliminated instantly upon arriving at the Red Bull Sound Space at KROQ. Representatives from KROQ, as well as Red Bull, were friendly, inviting, and engaging. Rather than emitting the vibe “You’re so lucky to be here,” the team’s message to all who were there was: “We’re so happy you came. Thank you.”

Nobody has to tell you that you’re lucky to be at a show like this. The moment you enter Red Bull Sound Space, you feel it. The space is intimate, accommodating approximately 150 fans. The backdrop of the stage is like a music time capsule – it’s constructed of speakers, turntables, boomboxes, receivers, and an assortment of other equipment. Rather than being covered in corporate branding or advertising, there is only one element of the backdrop that is branded, and its view is sometimes obstructed by the band. We see the branding, we know it’s Red Bull and KROQ, but when the band walks on stage, it’s about music and nothing else. This is very refreshing.

The show began with a brief, informed, and entertaining interview. It became clear that KROQ’s Nicole Alvarez is truly a fan of the band. She was very familiar with Portugal. The Man’s vast catalog, spoke about her personal connection to the music, and asked relevant questions. I know all of this seems like it should be a given, but it’s not to be taken for granted. This is not something all interviewers do well.

The band’s sense of humor and wit contributed greatly to the interview, as did the way they chose to answer – or not answer – the questions. Not to be confused with selective hearing – John Gourley has an impressive skill: selective responding. Clearly listening to each multi-part question, Gourley zeroed in on aspects where he could provide enough insight, while maintaining some mystery.

When asked about the meaning of their latest album, Evil Friends, or whether or not there’s a theme when they record, Gourley focused on the writing and recording process. He described how the band comes together to write and record in a way that makes you feel like you’re there, in the studio, with them. He left the meaning of the album up to the listeners.

Zach Carothers took on answering some of the questions, as well as chiming in during Gourley’s stories. Each time Carothers answered, he infused humor, often leading to a burst of conversation and laughter among the entire band. During these moments the dynamic personalities, quick wit, and friendship among Portugal. The Man members was undeniable.

My favorite moment during the interview came when Alvarez noted that Portugal. The Man puts out a new album nearly every year. Alvarez added that it seems as though the band is always either touring or releasing an album; they don’t stop. “That’s what we set out to do,” Gourley responded, adding that the band’s chosen goal is to make and play music as much as possible.

Portugal. The Man is a band that understands what it truly means to be musicians – just keep playing music. It’s a simple concept, but it takes constant discipline and dedication, which is what makes it hard for many to achieve. In addition to their music, it’s easy to appreciate and admire Portugal. The Man’s work ethic and commitment.

Playing songs from their latest album, Evil Friends, Portugal. The Man took us on a journey. This is the most stripped-down I’ve seen the band. Even when they played The Troubadour several years ago, Portugal. The Man brought in some of their own “lights” (in quotes because it’s nowhere near the setup they have now). The absence of lights and fog allowed me to appreciate the show on an even deeper level.

It was fun to watch the band build the songs – all the layers, the harmonies, the bass, guitar, keys, percussion, and the timing. When you hear the music, it sounds great. When you see what it takes to create the sound live – the precision of it all – it allows you to appreciate it that much more.

I feel that way each time I see Portugal. The Man. No matter the venue, the lighting, the stage, or the setlist, I take away something new at every show. Their shows are expansive and dynamic. There’s always more to discover when Portugal. The Man plays. They are one of very few bands I see every time they’re in town. 

After playing Creep In A T-Shirt, Evil Friends, Modern Jesus, and Sea of Air, Portugal. The Man announced the next song would be the last of this concise radio set. The audience let out a sigh of  “Noooooooo….” that was audible until the band launched into “Purple, Yellow, Red, and Blue.” At that moment, the sighs became cheers.

When reviewing my pictures from this show, I was surprised to find this. It appears my camera captured “Purple. Yellow, Red, and Blue” in the midst of the show. That’s one hell of a photo bomb, PtM.

 Portugal. The Man is on tour now. Get tickets before they sell out.

Win Tickets to See The Postal Service at The Greek Theatre LA on July 23rd

 

Summer is truly upon us. That means it’s time for another ticket giveaway at one of my favorite venues,  The Greek Theatre!

The Postal Service is playing two shows at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles this month: July 23rd and 24th.

One lucky Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend reader will win a pair of tickets to see The Postal Service at The Greek Theatre LA  on Tuesday July 23rd.  Here’s what you need to know to enter:

  • The contest begins now and ends at 12:00am ET July 18, 2013 (9:00pm PT July 17th)
  • TO ENTER:  Visit Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend on Facebook
  • You will see there are several ways you can enter and you can get additional entries for each thing you choose to do.  You can follow us, tweet about us, like us on Facebook, and more.  ENTER NOW
  • Winner (1) will be selected by random.org and notified via email on July 18, 2013.  Winner will have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is selected
  • Your tickets will be available for pick up at Will Call at The Greek Theatre on the evening of the show
  • Transportation and accommodations not included

About The Postal Service:

The Postal Service 2013 anniversary tour is quite possibly the single most hotly anticipated reunion of the year, selling out theaters, clubs, amphitheaters and arenas the world over, including the Greek Theater in Berkeley and New York’s Barclays Center where second dates have been added by popular demand. Other upcoming dates that have completely sold out in advance now include Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, London, Manchester, Detroit, Atlanta, Boise, Orlando, Kansas City, Columbus, and more sure to come.

The 10th anniversary dates reunite Postal Service principals Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello with Jenny Lewis, who appeared on the original 2003 album and tour. Lewis also sings on the two new songs on Give Up (Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition). Laura Burhenn (Mynabirds, Bright Eyes) rounds out the 2013 touring lineup. Give Up was certified platinum last year just shy of 10 years from its original February 9, 2003 release. Led by the single ”Such Great Heights,” the landmark album is, after Nirvana’s Bleach, the second-biggest selling album in Sub Pop’s 25-year history.

About The Greek Theatre:

For “official” information about The Greek Theatre, you can check out their website, but here’s my take:  The Greek Theatre is one of my all-time favorite music venues. Start to finish, The Greek Theatre is an EXPERIENCE!  You can get there early, picnic, and drink wine. If you don’t mind a walk, you can park on Vermont and enjoy the walk to and from the venue.  If you’re reading Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend, chances are you’re not the type  to leave the show early, so you can take the easy route and commit to the stacked parking option.   The venue is beautiful, outdoors, surrounded by trees.  The sound is impeccable.  I’ve seen some of my favorite shows at The Greek and I’m very excited to share these opportunities with you.

What Now?

Well, if you haven’t already done so, ENTER TO WIN TICKETS NOW.

For more info about this show or Greek Theatre, click here.

To buy tickets to this show, click here.

If you have questions or comments, please leave them for me below.

Thank you!

Colette

Another Case For Sharing Music: Cloud Control

June 29, 2013

I didn’t pay to download Cloud Control‘s album, Bliss Release. I received a newsletter from The Bootleg Theater that the band from Australia would be playing there in August, which reminded me I wanted to check them out.

I went to Cloud Control’s website and was pleased to see they have full streams of their songs available so we can listen to them. I listened for about as long as I could stand to be indoors, on the computer, during a beautiful summer day. Then, I reached out to a friend of mine who also writes about music to ask if he had heard of Cloud Control and find out whether he had any of their music.

Within an hour, the album awaited me in the cloud. I imported it into my iTunes, transferred it to my iPod, and took a walk down to the beach. It felt good to be discovering music again and Cloud Control’s upbeat vibe reinforced that feeling.

I was really enjoying the album, so I Tweeted about it to my 32,000+ followers, who share my passion for music.

I also emailed, called, and texted some other friends I thought would appreciate Cloud Control. Then, I sent the band a Tweet, letting them know their album was contributing to the enjoyment of my day.

That began a conversation with the band. Which alerted me that they have at least one person on their team who is adept at building relationships.

That led to a Direct Message from Jeremy, who plays bass and sings in the band. We transitioned from Direct Message to email and now I’m hooked. I like the music, I care about the band personally, I’m going to see their shows, and I will purchase whatever merchandise they have available on the road – vinyl, a hoodie… something that will put more money in the band’s pocket than an album download.

Jeremy took the time to see who I am, what I write about, what part of the world I’m in, before he responded to me. “You’re LA, yeah?” he confirmed, as he invited me to the band’s LA shows. That’s more than 97% of publicists who reach out to me, on behalf of bands that are paying them, do.

He then went on to talk about the evolution of Cloud Control’s music from their previous album to their forthcoming one. “It’ll be interesting to hear your take on it,” he wrote. Well, I haven’t heard it yet, but I’m predisposed to like it simply based on the current experience I’m having with this band and their music.

Jeremy gave me contact info for the label, so that I can request an advance copy of the new album. Dear VOTIV: you’re lucky – you’ve got a smart band that’s really working for it and doesn’t take for granted that anyone else is going to do it for them.

If they’d like the $7.99 for the album I didn’t pay for, I’ll give it to them. I’ll buy a copy and gift it to a friend. Now that they’ve engaged me, artistically, personally, and professionally, I’ll spend money on Cloud Control, no problem. During the course of any given band’s career, I have easily spent upwards of $1,000 on tickets, merchandise, and music. I’ll also make sure everyone I know knows about the band.

It doesn’t happen often, but when I do tap into the cloud for new music, it’s to achieve one of two objectives: to truly listen to – and hopefully discover – new music I enjoy; or to get an album I’d purchase anyway, 8-10 weeks prior to its scheduled release. In the case of music discovery, if I like the music, if I connect with the band, I’ll spend a significant amount of money supporting them, throughout their career. 

In the case of early access to music, I’d pay for early access to new music. Which, actually would be real-time access. I’d pay to download a song or an album when it’s complete, but that’s not how it typically works. Instead, an album is completed and sits on desks, shelves, hard drives, and inboxes, while all the teams coordinate and execute some semblance of a “launch plan”.

This year, among others, I had the new albums from The National, Sigur Ros, and Atoms For Peace, well in advance of their advance release. I listened to them in the car, during my morning runs, while working, and falling asleep. I spent a lot of time with the albums and recommended people purchase them when they were released. I’ve since bought tickets to see each of those bands two or more times during their tours this year.

Why should we have to wait for music while the label gets their marketing plan together? Marketing is nothing without engagement. You should have been talking to us all along. That’s what Cloud Control is doing. They’re doing whatever it takes, and as much as they’re able.

If you’re putting out quality music, something people can truly connect with, file sharing could be your greatest asset. Your “marketing team” is then comprised of your fans and they know how to promote your music and your shows better than anyone.

If, on the other hand, you’re afraid once people hear the music, they wouldn’t find it worth $7.99 or $9.99, then you have a bigger problem – you don’t have a product nor experience you can stand behind. That is what you should be worried about.

Cloud Control: I wish you all the best. I’ve been listening to the album a lot (my neighbors can attest to that) and enjoying it. Thank you for making your art and yourselves accessible. I can’t wait to see you play in August and look forward to the new album. If there’s anything else I can do, let me know.

Listen to “Ghost Story” from Cloud Control’s album Bliss Release:

Watch:

Their new album will be out September 17 in the U.S.

http://www.cloudcontrolband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/cloudcontroller
https://twitter.com/cloud_control

Joseph Arthur at The Troubadour: The Journey

June 20, 2013
The Troubadour, Los Angeles

Earlier today, a publicist friend of mine suggested I request press credentials for a forthcoming, new, music festival. “They’ll look at my site and see that I haven’t updated it in months,” I replied. It’s what I said at the outset: I’m not going to write about every show I see, but I will write about the shows I think everyone should experience.

Which brings us back to Joseph Arthur.

One of the benefits of seeing Joseph Arthur play multiple times is that you simultaneously experience and witness continuous transformation. Listening to Joe play songs from his latest album, The Ballad of Boogie Christ, takes you further along the journey, while maintaining a connection to his beginnings. There’s a through-line that creates the foundation for the audience to step into the next adventure.

Walking onto the stage, in a white suit that appears to have remnants of a painting which extended beyond its original canvas, Joseph Arthur epitomizes “artist.” Appearing as though he sought out the shortest route from the art studio to the stage, he is perpetually creating. The stage becomes his art studio, whether he’s literally painting while singing (as he’s done previously), or playing a new arrangement of an older song (as he did several times tonight).

This show feels and sounds vastly different from other Joseph Arthur shows. It’s clear that this is a new chapter. There are far fewer pedals and more musicians on stage. The show is upbeat, soulful, and rooted in rock. The songs build to a crescendo and you’re enveloped in sound.

When Joseph Arthur plays, it’s more than a concert – he begins with a blank canvas and takes you on a journey. There are nods to the past, the future is optimistic, and you’re grounded – with him – in the present. As with life and relationships, every show is unique. You are part of the experience.

The venue is intimate, but the sound is big. At times it felt as though we were in a stadium, witnessing an immense rock show. “I intentionally didn’t bring a harmonica or acoustic guitar this time,” Joe told me. The instruments have changed; the sound accompanies and embraces the change. The show is infused with passion, love, dedication, and a reminder of what it means to truly be alive.

Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we are constantly changing. The ideas, beliefs, and ways of life that keep us happy, healthy, and fulfilled, follow suit. When we’re aware of and welcome the changes, we liberate ourselves – we allow ourselves to be the dynamic individuals that we are. We’re present in every moment, constantly creating, being as we are, without attachment.

Walking away from a show, reminded of some of life’s greatest gifts – the ability to create, continuously evolve, and express different incarnations of ourselves during the same lifetime – is definitely worth the price of admission. Not to mention, the music and experience itself is incomparable.

Keep an eye on his tour page and see Joseph Arthur live when the opportunity arises.

http://www.josepharthur.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Josepharthurpage
https://twitter.com/josepharthur
 http://www.museumofmodernarthur.com/

How To Destroy Angels Destroys The Status Quo

April 10, 2013
Fox Theater, Pomona

It was worth traversing multiple freeways and enduring the incessant glare of brake lights ahead of us throughout the long drive to Pomona. It’s worth going to Coachella, solely to see How To Destroy Angels. It’s well worth the price of tickets, at any cost.

Anybody who’s in any industry that revolves around connecting with, making an impression on, and moving people – artists, filmmakers, musicians, designers, executives in technology, advertising, gaming, sales, theme parks, theater – should be required to experience this show. Anyone who wants to experience being moved and touched in a way that will inspire them, spark passion and new ideas, should figure out a way to see HTDA.

We had considerable time to reflect and talk during the drive to Pomona. At one point, I began reminiscing about amazing shows I’ve seen in years past, which I’ve yet to write about. “Maybe I’ll start writing about all the outstanding concerts I used to see,” I said, noting that those shows are even fewer and farther between now.

I arrived at the Fox Theater, with no idea what to expect. I hadn’t watched the “teaser” video for the tour, seen the rehearsal photos, nor checked in on any social media site to see what the band or anyone else was saying pre-show. I’ve been to enough Nine Inch Nails shows to know that Trent Reznor – and everyone working with him – takes the experience of live music to new heights, every time he tours. “That’s what’s been missing from live music. . . ” I thought, remembering Reznor’s speech during the final Nine Inch Nails show in 2009.

From the flicker of the first light and the vibration of the first sound, How To Destroy Angels made an immense impact when they took the stage. It’s likely you haven’t experienced anything like this. The show was immersive, high-vibrational, other-worldly, and evolutionary. Eyes wide, considering the spectacular production surrounding me, I reached for my camera. By the time I got the camera out of its pouch I had missed 3 seconds of the show; those lost 3 seconds can’t be regained.

There’s no need to try to capture the show. You cannot do it. You cannot accurately capture How To Destroy Angels in a 2 nor 3 dimensional medium. The show encompasses at least 8 dimensions. Feelings, ideas, and music was delivered uniquely, with consistent intention and care. The experience expands your perspective, as new possibilities are constantly put in front of you. There’s no time between performances to recover from the state of awe felt during each song. When HTDA begin the next song, your eyes get wider, your smile gets larger, your vision and dreams expand — you cannot believe what you’re feeling.

Don’t worry about capturing How To Destroy Angels. Put away your devices. Experience the gift they’re sharing with you and all in attendance. I’d recommend you don’t watch the teaser video, don’t watch people’s shaky videos with blown-out audio on YouTube, don’t worry about how you’ll get to a How To Destroy Angels show – just make sure you get to one: http://tour.destroyangels.com/.

Two-thirds of the way through the show, I had tears in my eyes. They were tears of gratitude for the inspiration, the expansion, the art, the reminder to continually create at the highest level, with absolute integrity. HTDA provided an experience that moved me completely, on every level – visually, aurally, intellectually, and spiritually.

I remember the last time I saw Trent Reznor on stage – he made a vow to all of us, “I won’t let you down.” He is a man of his word. How To Destroy Angels is not some “fun side project”. Or maybe it is, but every second was created, delivered, and shared beyond the most artistic, creative, professional standards. Nothing was compromised. Everybody involved in creating this experience should be celebrated. There should be an awards ceremony where there’s only one award – and it goes to How To Destroy Angels. “This is our first show. Thank you for being here,” Mariqueen said, further highlighting all that I was feeling. HTDA is something profoundly unique. 

$27. The ticket was only $27. Thankfully, every now and then, Trent Reznor reincarnates to challenge our standards and our expectations. How To Destroy Angels isn’t giving their fans a run for their money, but they sure are giving everyone else one. 

Get tickets now: http://tour.destroyangels.com/  

 

The Watkins Family Hour Celebrates A Watkins Family Decade

January 11, 2013
Largo Los Angeles

watkins family hour“If you were here ten years ago, you were probably eating honey chicken” may sound like an odd intro, but it was the perfect statement to kick off The Watkins Family Hour 10-Year Anniversary show at Largo.

Those of us who have been attending the Watkins Family shows for ten years (or more) remember the honey chicken tradition well. The best way to ensure getting into a show at the old Largo location on Fairfax was to reserve a table. There was a $15 per person food minimum and the honey chicken was a crowd favorite.

The process seems so analog now. You’d dial into an answering machine and leave a message with your name, phone number, and the show you’d like to see. You then waited by the phone for the next two to three days, hoping you weren’t too late, that there were still tables available. If you were lucky, you’d receive a confirmation call from Largo to lock in your reservation. Thanks to technology, the process has since been updated, but I still feel that lucky each time I experience a show at Largo.

With the venue’s move from Fairfax to La Cienega, went the kitchen, the honey chicken, and the sound of knives and forks clanking against plates during the show. It was all part of the experience and core to the foundation of Largo that remains today – a place like no other.

As I’ve written previously, The Watkins Family Hour is one of my favorite ways to spend a night in Los Angeles. I was in Africa during much of December, without phone or internet, gazing into the eyes of lions, giraffes, elephants, rhinos, and leopards. The first thing I did when I returned home – prior to unpacking, calling friends and family, and eating – was check Largo’s website for a January Watkins show. The January 11th 10-year anniversary show was indeed listed and, like the old days, I was grateful it wasn’t too late to get a ticket.

The collaborative and uplifting spirt of The Watkins Family Hour is undeniable. Each show feels like a celebration of music and friendship. In this case, the friendships were further highlighted, as the Watkins reminisced about the past 10 years, sharing stories each time a special guest took the stage.

After Fiona Apple joined The Watkins for an extraordinary performance of “You’re The One I Love”, she and Sara laughed, remembering the intensity of recording the song. They explained that they stared into each other’s eyes the entire time they sang the song, take after take. “Then… I don’t know what happened. It was so intense!” Fiona exclaimed.

“I think we eventually erupted in laughter,” Sara responded.

“Yeah, because it was so intense – it was funny,” Fiona added.

“It’s a funny song,” Sara joked.

The Watkins Family Hour is essentially a show down between the songs and the moments between songs. Hearing the music, watching the band – each member lost in his own world, yet connected and communicating with the others – is magical. I find myself filled with gratitude, so happy to be there, lost in time. Then, between songs, another kind of magic happens. The spontaneous conversations, the humor that’s delivered as if you’re in on the inside joke, the stories shared. . . No longer are you in a theatre. You’ve been transported to the Watkins’ living room.

Tonight, we also experienced magic in the traditional sense of the word. Comedian and magician, Derek Hughes, made a guest appearance and “a commitment to our astonishment” as he performed numerous mind-blowing card tricks. I’m happy I drank a bottle of sake prior to this show or my mind would have been reeling, trying to figure out the tricks. Instead, I was simultaneously laughing and “astonished”, non-stop, throughout the show.

When Glen Phillips joined The Watkins on stage, Sean told a story about the first time he and Glen connected. Sean wrote Glen a note and sent him some songs. Glen finished the story, explaining how – upon hearing their songs – he invited Sean and Sara to play with him at Largo. As he spoke, Glen appeared to be overcome with awe. Everyone on stage looked like they couldn’t believe they were playing with each of the others, as if it were all a dream.

Fiona joined Sara and Sean for a few more songs, allowing us to witness the reunion of an exceptionally talented, fun, playful, and supportive family. If you haven’t seen Fiona sing “Jolene” with The Watkins, consider adding it to your bucket list. The spirit of friendship, artistry, happiness, musicianship, trust, respect, and love, fills the room as they sing. It’s spectacular. The Watkins Family Hour isn’t so much a “show” as it is a dynamic expression of music and life, in the purest sense.

Years ago, at The Fairfax venue, you’d often hear Flanny make a request from a back corner of the room. It was a reminder of how much Flanny loves music and the musicians who play Largo. His respect for and appreciation of musicians, and those who share that respect and appreciation, was – and still is – carried throughout everything that happens at Largo. To this day, Largo is the epitome of what can be when people operate with unwavering integrity and intention. “This one’s at the request of Flanny,” Sara said, introducing the next song.

When The Watkins Family Hour concluded in the theatre, a line formed down the block, outside The Little Room for another intimate performance. The Little Room is reminiscent of the Fairfax days – tables and chairs, a bar at the back of the room, and the shouts of audience requests. After a few songs and some more astonishing magic, the evening came to an end, feeling much like it did at the very beginning.

A few people were at a loss for words as they expressed their gratitude to Sean, Sara, and the band, after the show. Even as I write this now, it is challenging to articulate what a truly “astonishing” experience The Watkins Family Hour is.

Friday night was a celebration of The Watkins Family, which includes enduring friendships, the home known as Largo, and an audience that can’t get enough.

 

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