Last week the Culture Collide music festival returned to Echo Park, Los Angeles. The third annual Filter Magazine event produced a four days of non-stop music by emerging talent from around the globe. Team-B3SCI were on the grounds making all the rounds to venues, parking lots, champaign rooms… you name it! Below is a collection of some favorite first-hand accounts from our troops on the ground.
THURSDAY October 4, 2012 _____________________________
Dean Wareham @ Methodist Church
I feel like a better music fan, and more specifically a better indie music fan, for having seen Dean Wareham at the Methodist Church. The cozy, intimate setting was dimly lit and provided the perfect setting for Wareham’s lo-fi aesthetic. The capacity of around 200 was nearly full, with casual listeners strolling in and out to catch the other acts during the time slot, namely Blood Red Shoes. Wareham is a true rock craftsman — I’m more a fan of his Luna project than Galaxie 500, and although the set was mainly Galaxie material, I found myself recognizing most of the cuts. At his preferred tempo, Wareham is hard to beat. By Chris Gedos
Blood Red Shoes @ The Champaign Room
I left Wareham early to catch the last three songs of Blood Red Shoes’ set. This Brighton duo pack more of a wallop than most three and four-piece groups, check our interview with drummer Steven back in 2k10 for more on their sound. Apparently I had missed some technical difficulties earlier in their set, but the three cuts I heard were raucous, euphoric, abrasive, fleeting, and all those other words which come to mind when thinking of the group. The Champaign Room at Taix was packed to the brim, with a healthy mosh of about 50 adding to the excitement. Unfortunately for this listener, Blood Red Shoes ended almost as soon as they began. By Chris Gedos
Tribes @ The Champaign Room
I could not have been more pleased with Tribes’ set. They’ve been here in LA for the past couple months recording the follow up to February’s Baby, which btw is sure to land somewhere in my top ten at the end of the year. While the usual smattering of attendees relocated to another room for John Talbot, much of the crowd were engaged singing along, and genuinely pumped to see the Camden four-piece. While Tribes only played “Dancer” off the new album (great cut, similar in sound with a big chorus), the songs off Baby were spot-on. I was especially pleased to hear closer “Bad Apple”, which was left off when they played The Bootleg in March, and of course “Sappho” and “We Were Children”, two of the better power pop songs written since the mid-90s. By Chris Gedos
FRIDAY October 5, 2012 _____________________________
The Balconies @ Taix Lounge
Every music fan hopes to catch a surprise discovery or two during any festival, and my most pleasant surprise at Culture Collide came with the first band I saw. The Balconies from Ottawa/Toronto are a hard rock trio with amazing energy and good melodies. Singer Jacquie Neville not only has all of the moves of a star front woman, but she is also the band’s guitar player. They were on the lips of many during the rest of the weekend. By Bruce Rave
The Royal Teeth
The Royal Teeth from New Orleans delivered a spot on set packed with some flawless harmonies and radio-ready songs. These guys have a band next door kind of vibe, and their “Wild” single has been gaining some traction on many radars. By Bruce Rave
SATURDAY October 6, 2012 _____________________________
Morning Parade @ Taix Lounge
UK and Morning Parade have seen a fair amount of radio success this year. It’s definitely worth noting that their strong live set helps backs up some of the buzz. By Bruce Rave
Moss @ Taix Lounge
While heading over from the a set at Echoplex, I bumped into the bass player of the next band I was heading to see. We talked over a cigarette about how Moss have enjoyed playing in the US and were going back to Amsterdam shortly after playing this festival. Not giving me much insight into the show I was about to take in, and by some suprise the dutch quartet blew away their small but captive audience. Their unique indie pop sound explores various influences with spot on harmonies and an overall musicianship, that would almost seem like they have been playing together for 20 years, culminating to an outstanding show. A definite highlight of the festival for me and a band worth taking note. By Brian Litwin
Ewert and the Dragons @ Echoplex
Ewert and the Dragons hail from Estonia, playing a blend of sweet melodies set in a sort of Mumford & Sons feel. More than just an A+ band name, these guys showed why they were one of the more buzzed-about bands at Culture Collide. By Bruce Rave
Gold Fields @ Echoplex
This show had everything from loads of energy, an injured lead singer, Aussie accents, radio ready songs and cowbell – lots of cowbell. Astralwerks backed Gold Fields had the Friday night Echoplex crowd moving. Playing songs off their 2011 self titled EP and closing with recent single “Dark Again (Lights Out)”. By Brian Litwin
Icona Pop @ Echoplex
Shortly after Gold Fields, the dancing continued for Swedish DJ duo Icona Pop. From the start, the twosome had control of the crowd. When they dropped blogger crazed “I Love It” featuring Charli XCX it sent the crowd into a frenzy, and during the whole performance it seemed the duo were taken aback by how responsive the crowd was. Look for the band’s sophomore showing The Iconic out on October 16th. By Brian Litwin
SUNDAY October 7, 2012 _____________________________
DIIV (pronounced “dive”) is the perfect band for the Culture Collide crowd, on the vanguard of third or fourth gen shoegaze (depending on who you ask). This band do just about everything right— they play loud and they sound exactly how you would want them to sound live after listening to their acclaimed debut album, Oshin. The audience listened intently with little to no dancing— after all, shoegaze is a sub-genre meant to be listened to with a stoic objectivity. I’m certain that their follow-up show at the Echo on Tuesday night was near max capax and did not disappoint. By Chris Gedos
Tapioca and the Flea @ The Champaign Room
Tapioca and the Flea (top 20 coolest band name in history) played the Taix Champange room as a last-minute addition. Hopefully enough people saw their adroit and energetic set that they’ll be properly added to the bill for next year. They provided an interesting dynamic and can mix up tempos mid-song extremely well. With an aura never quite descending into Sugar Rat indie thanks to some Wayne Coyne lyrical coyness, the keyboardists’ contribution to the arrangements even reminded me of a 21st century Question Mark and The Mysterians. By Chris Gedos
School of Seven Bells @ Block Party
School of Seven Bells can be slotted under the classification “Interpol-wave”, and in fact their band came to fruition opening for Banks and company. Their style is a refined and nuanced art-rock which held up rather well in front of the slaphappy West Coast crowd. Singer Alejandra Deheza has an enchanting presence, to say the least. By Chris Gedos
The Wombats @ Echoplex or Block Party
The Wombats are finally nearing the end of a long run supporting their album This Modern Glitch, which contains surprise US radio hit “Jump Into the Fog”. Most of the band’s set rejoiced from This Modern Glitch but their UK smash “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” recieved great reaction, and will always be a standard for them. The Wombats were one of the more fun bands at Culture Collide, which the crowd was happy to share. By Bruce Rave
Class Actress @ Block Party
Class Actress, an electro-pop duo, drew many festival goers away from the limited shady spots located near the hot and sunny main stage on the closing day. Fusing pop-friendly lyrics and heavy synth leads and instrumentals, lead singer Elizabeth Harper swayed side to side of the stage moving the crowd along. Playing mostly from their 2011 release Rapproacher, Class Actress set the stage nicely for the acts coming up. By Brian Litwin
Poolside @ Block Party
Brazilian trio Bonde do Role couldn’t make the show due to some Visa issues so festival producers had to scramble quickly to get a replacement band. They signed on LA’s own Poolside, which proved to be a very nice surprise. Laying down some daytime disco, the crowd started to really get into it. Grooving to songs like “Next to You” and “Kiss You Forever” the crowd didn’t mind that Bonde do Role couldn’t be there. Ironically enough, Poolside starts a fall tour in San Francisco today (October 10th) with Bonde do Role and headliner Com Truise. By Brian Litwin
Nikki and the Dove @ Block Party
Nikki and the Dove set the trippy stage for the Of Montreal out-of-this-world main course that would soon follow. As for numbers, Nikki and the Dove had nearly as many people in attendance as Of Montreal would anc their set was loud enough to reach other galaxies. I loved their stage presence, and while there’s a part of their musicianship eerily reminiscent of Prince, it’s debatable how much of their panache translates to CD. By Chris Gedos
Of Montreal @ Block Party
Of Montreal provided the perfect capstone to a weekend of great musical variety. Within the first few songs a fleet of aliens and a giant ghost (consisting of three performers)had already stormed the stage. Lead / musical virtuoso Kevin Barnes relished his moment as headliner and delivered a set of fitting distinction, one which touched upon the entirety of the band’s catalog, from its more traditionally quirky indie roots of Satanic Panic in the Attic and The Gay Parade, to the indie psych of Hissing Fauna, are you the Destroyer, to the neo-indie-soul of their most recent compositions. By Chris Gedos
Good music will indeed prevail for FILTER Magazine’s third annual Culture Collide Festival, taking place in Los Angeles on October 4-7th. It’s the time of year when Indian summer resides in and talent from around the globe diverge to the eastside Echo Park neighborhood for four days of nonstop music showcasing. The sun baked urban hills will also host a new Creative Summit, and Comedy showcase, in addition to this year’s ace linup which includes Of Montreal, The Wombats, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, The Big Pink, Zola Jesus, DIIV, Patrick Wolf, Icona Pop, Mr. little Jeans, Nikki and The Dove, Tribes, Class Actress, School of Seven Bells, Moss, American Royalty, Blood Red Shoes, of Verona, The Moog, Magic Wands, Gold Fields, Young Buffalo and more!
Even more exciting, B3SCI is hosting a pair of wristbands giveaways to the entire Fest! Enter to win by hitting our inbox and letting us know that youwant to be entered in the drawing. We are picking our winners at random early this week by Wednesday morning, so keep an eye on your inbox! Also if you don’t win… don’t fret, for full access to the festival wristbands are just $20. Get more details on tix and check out our new playlist for the fest below.
*Shouts to the rad dudes at Before The Bigs for putting a mix together!
team b3science recently got together with Steven from Brighton, UK duo Blood Red Shoes while the band were in LA to talk about their new LP, Fire Like This, b-side philosophy, Fugazi, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and more… check it out below:
b3sci: Fire Like This is a killer follow-up LP… how would you say Blood Red Shoes artistically evolved on your second album compared with your debut, Box of Secrets?
BRS: Yeah I think we’ve moved forward with it, especially melodically speaking. I think we write better “songs” than before. It’s not a radical jump, it’s just that we’re mining the same kind of sound but hammering out all the details. I’m much happier with the overall feel and atmosphere of this record, I think it has more depth and I certainly think it sounds more personal and honest. I think the biggest improvement we made was in the vocals really. Just forcing ourselves to sing a take that felt right and not hiding behind double tracks and overdubs as much. Our hope is that it feels more emotionally bare because of that.
b3sci: What sort of chemistry with producer Mike Crossey do you attribute to Blood Red Shoes’ sound in the studio?
BRS: Well for one thing Mike is a great engineer, and that’s an art rapidly getting lost in favour of a “let’s throw some mics up and get it into pro-tools as quick as possible and fix it after” kind of attitude. That’s something we respect and value a hell of a lot. Beyond that the biggest thing he brought to us was being hard on us about our singing! He really pushed us as vocalists and I think we absorbed that pressure, especially on the first album, and now we keep pushing ourselves to become better singers. Singing is by far the hardest, most personal, most human, most scary fucking instrument you can learn.
b3sci: Do you have any long-term visions of a specific type of album that you seek to create some day… in the near or distant future?
BRS: I don’t think we have a vision of the type of album we’d like to make. Our band has certain parameters in that there are only 2 members, but beyond that we feel like anything we write together is “Blood Red Shoes”. We’ve been experimenting with piano and keyboard parts recently and writing instrumentals that definitely sit in more of a post-rock kind of universe. I have no idea how these sort of forays will impact on our next record but I feel like we have a lot of other music in us apart from our obvious punk rock side. That being said we’d never feel right making an album full of slow stuff, we’d get bored.
b3sci: Being from Brighton, England, what’s your take on musical regionalism (i.e. bands specifically not from London, NY, LA, major music hubs…)? Do you think it has helped Blood Red Shoes, or has it been an obstacle?
BRS: Well it’s a bit of a myth to start from because most musicians grow up in little shit towns and make their pilgrimage to a bigger town to pursue music. Iggy Pop is from Ann Arbor in Michigan you know? So yeah the focus on those major cities is only founded on the fact that generations of musicians keep moving there. I think Brighton does have a scene and there’s a bit of focus on that, but it’s nothing like if we came from NYC or London where there’s more of a perceived “sound” at a given time. So it’s given us that little bit more freedom to define our identity, that’s for sure.
b3sci: Unlike in the generations of Iggy Pop, today, bands all over the world have the internet. What role do you feel the internet has played in giving exposure to Blood Red Shoes?
BRS: A fucking huge role. We’re in the middle of a US tour and the only reason there are people even showing up is 99% because of the internet. We have zero background here so that’s the only real explanation. The internet has enabled bands with a DIY ethos to get even further than before because they can bypass the industry channels far faster, more easily and more cheaply than ever before and that’s a great thing. In the 80s or 90s those punk bands who got through like Fugazi are legends because they had to set up their whole record and touring network using phones and snail mail, and the fact is, there are a lot of great musicians who just don’t have the fucking organizational skills to do that! The internet has made that much more accessible. On the flipside of course, that means there are ten million more half-arsed bands to wade through.
b3sci: Being an established UK act, and from your experience, what are your general observations about this sort of reception of emerging artists from the UK in the states, and the same vice-versa?
BRS: Well so far, as our first time in the states, it’s been much easier and more welcoming than our first few tours of the UK. I think that does have something to do with us being established across europe first of course, but still, there’s a noticeable difference. I think there’s certainly a similar reception when US bands come over the UK, they’re seen as a bit more exotic and cool because they’re from the US! There are bands in england that are amazing and play to very few people and I find myself thinking, man, if they were from the US, they’d be playing to 5 times the crowd each night…
b3sci: “Box of Secrets” was a B-side on the “It’s Getting Boring by the Sea” single, and is also the name of your debut LP. This leads us to believe that BRS have a special take on what b-side’s should mean to an artist’s catalogue?
BRS: Well unless we’re totally fucked for time because we’re touring loads, our policy is that b-sides should be worthwhile songs, not just some crap you put out to pad out a single release. We’ve filled up releases with demo versions and remixes and we regret that, we were pushed into it by a label we now don’t work with, thank god. If we’re really screwed for time and we need a b-side, we’ll do our best to record something new – it might be a bit rushed or a bit half-formed but that’s at least better than a shit remix or a live version. One example was a song called “Carry Knots” which we wrote and recorded in 1 day off in the middle of tour and I really really like it. B-sides are part of your output and if you have standards, you need to keep them up there. Especially since EVERYTHING will be on Spotify now as well….
b3sci: How do you feel having “It’s Getting Boring by the Sea” synched in the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has (if at all) impacted Blood Red Shoes… especially it being a single from your previous album?
BRS: Well it’s lead to a bunch of new people finding our band in the UK and US for sure. We were a bit worried it was such an old song, and that maybe people would be confused when they hear newer material like “Colours Fade”, but so far nobody’s commented negatively so that’s cool. It’s nice that it was an english director too, I mean, we’re no nationalists but I thought it was cool that he picked a british band on there amongst the other more established US acts.
b3sci: What would you guys like to see music licensing mean to popular culture and emerging artists in the years to come?
BRS: I think there’s a danger that the licensing stuff is becoming THE way to break a band – The XX are massive largely because of it and i’m very suspicious of that because it encourages bands just to write music FOR adverts or TV shows, and encourages them to put themselves in any context just for the exposure. You have to be careful with that because the context really affects the meaning of your art. I don’t want our band to be the one people know from a car advert because that’s not what we’re about at all.
b3sci: You’ve been playing together for a long time. To you, what are the main advantages and disadvantages of working as a duo both live and in the studio?
BRS: Well the chemisty and ability to lock in with each other musically is much more straightforward, it’s two people looking each other in the eye following where the music takes you. That’s a massive advantage. But yeah we also get really sick of each other on tour and fight more than average I think, just because humans who spend that much time together end up like that. A married couple would at least spend their days at separate jobs…we spend all day and all night together ha ha.
b3sci: What in your eyes are some of the popular misnomers about bands and the music industry among the general, casual listening public?
BRS: For a while people seemed to have the impression in England that we were an “Indie” band which we’re certainly not. In England, Indie means The Smiths, The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand…it’s basically lightweight guitar pop. We’re a rock band…for us the guitar riffs come first. I hope we’ve got past that with this album at least. The other thing is that people assume a 2 piece will be a minimalist thing, and that’s never been our intention at all, we want to sound as big as possible. Raw, yes, direct, yes, but not simplistic and minimal.
b3sci: Which song off of Fire Like This are you most proud of? Is there one you’d like to get back in the studio and rework?
BRS: You have to draw a line once you’ve recorded it. I’m sure there are elements in every song that we’d go back and tweak infinitely but the way to use those concerns is to channel them into the next record. Finding the flaws in your previous album is the best way to give you clarity about what to do on the next one.
b3sci: Which contemporary musician outside of the rock spectrum would you most like to collaborate with?
BRS: I’d love to work with Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) if that counts as far enough from the “rock spectrum”. Or someone totally pop just to explore that it’s like to try writing a song that half the planet can get into, that world fascinates me.
b3sci: If you weren’t in a band today, what sort of work could you see yourselves doing?
BRS: I kid myself that I’d try being a chef. But really, I’d just work for bands as a roadie so I could get as close to being a band as possible…
Contributed by Chris Gedos
could it be? seriously?! wow it is. we’re back AGAIN, IN THE MIX! and while Record Store Day has some SERIOUS shit in straight lockdown until tomorrow, B3sci’s got some killer new stuff to sink your teeth into in the mean time. hmm, let’s see what we’ve got here..
Sage Francis – Slow Man myspace buy it Sage Francis’ new record Li(f)e drops May 11 – BUY IT! Francis enlists well respected chi-town musicians from Califone and producer/ Red Red Meat drummer/ prior upstairs neighbor Brian Deck, as well as collaborates with writers Jason Lytle, Chris Walla, Tim Fite and more… get into it.
Hot Hot Heat – 21 @ 12 myspace buy music “21 @ 12″ is the new single from Hot Hot Heat. we are stoked these guys are still making music. Future Breeds drops June 8th via Dangerbird, better question… why wouldn’t you buy it?