Live Show Reviews

SXSW Saturday Afternoon Wrap 03/19/11: Theophilus London, Scars on 45, The Republic Tigers, Joy Formidable, Oberhofer, Little Dragon, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger


Theophilus London @ Mohawk

Theophilus London packed the downstairs room of the Mohawk as part of the Mog/Lexus Party. Theo did an A+ job at engaging not only a kinetic swath of fans but a room, perhaps not so familiar with his music. “Flying Overseas”, “Why Even Try”, “Strange Love”, all the best examples of his unique Electro Hip Hop, hyped the crowd. His brief 30 minute set flew by, with multiple instances of girls-in-attendance brought on stage, numerous hilarious back-and-forths with the audience, and a few indie celeb-in-the-crowd shouts (TVOTR’s Dave Sitek, for one).

Theophilus London – Oops! (Tweet Cover)


Scars on 45 @ Brush Street Park

On our way to catch The Republic Tigers and Joy Formidable at the Chop Shop/Atlantic day showcase we caught the tail end of Scars on 45’s set. On point as they were with their set at Hotel Cafe in LA a month or so earlier, the band played with a hunger and energy that caught me off guard. We were into it. And it seemed that energy set the tone for the following two acts.

Scars on 45 – Loudest Alarm


The Republic Tigers @ Brush Street Park

Having caught The Republic Tigers last with Travis at the Wiltern in LA, we were impressed with their presence. A much more comfortable and confident band than remembered. Previewing material from their forthcoming “No Land’s Man” EP, we believed their songs and style of up-tempo and listener-friendly indie rock and roll. A few songs had a unmistakable Chop Shop tint to them, primed for mainstream TV.

The Republic Tigers – Buildings and Mountains


Joy Formidable @ Brush Street Park

Joy Formidable were one of the most talked about bands of SXSW. Again it proves what a great live show, star quality and some serious work can do for a band. The UK based, female fronted trio, plays with a profound intensity and passion. Their sound has an aggressive character to it, as one would expect from any rock trio, but when complimented with Ritzy Bryan’s vocals and a slick performance quality both confident and intense, the band is a force to be reckoned with. Pending hit songs, these guys have, dare we say, Muse-type potential. (Oh we just did.)

Joy Formidable – I Don’t Want to See You Like This


Oberhofer @ Virgin Mobile Live House

Virgin Mobile Live Host Abbey Braden was rightfully psyched to watch Oberhofer rock a bass and glock during their exclusive acoustic VML House session during SXSW. Their sound is fresh and evolving with a clear direction. Hear the session here.

Oberhofer – Away From You



Little Dragon @ Cedar Street Courtyard

Yukimi’s dances moves are adorable. Well, they’re less like moves and more like poses. Stop motion. Hold the frame. Hit all the angles. Make the next pose. Yukimi’s moves were adorable. The band’s performance was really not. The band seemed tired, bored, disinterested. The venue (Cedar Street Courtyard) was wrong. It’s outdoor stage doesn’t work for a band so dependent on atmosphere. Yukimi’s voice got lost. Much of the cool ambient synth work that make the band’s songs got lost too. Machine Dreams highlights like “Blinking Pigs” and “Feather” both never really worked. The crowd, too, seemed, at times, disinterested. The band did run through a new song or two. Showing off a sound that seemed to be more spread out, more engaged in space. Almost a more deep electro kind of sound. The songs centered on repetition of a few simple rhythmic figures with Yukimi’s vocal acting more as a frame to the rhythm than as the carrier of a tune. The new songs seemed to work better for the band in the outdoor setting. The band also seemed more interested. Little Dragon’s Cedar Street performance was not the worst thing we saw at SXSW but it certainly was a disappointment. We still you guys though! And the next gig in Boston or LA, we’ll still be there! We got you!

Little Dragon – Twice (Freddie Joachim Remix)


Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger @ Elysium

Ghost of a Saber Tooth tiger unfortunately lived up to expectations. I hoped that we would experience glimpses of Sean’s 2006 solo record, Friendly Fire, but instead we got a heavy dosage of maybe the Lennon family’s worst enemy… love. Kemp Muhl just doesn’t hold ground with a Lennon. Really, how many do?

Granted Sean said that the extra stage musician had one day to learn the entire set… it became increasingly clear that that may have been true for the entire band. Just Sean and his guitar would have sufficed. But then again, we wouldn’t be stretching the truth to say that we’d hoped to catch maybe a glimpse of Yoko Ono (also performing on that night’s bill) on stage with her son. In any event, the crowd was treated to large doses of Lennon wit. Sean got jokes. That’s genuine wit, folks, in the blood.

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger – Jardin du Luxembourg

Catch all of b3sci’s SXSW 2011 coverage HERE

Photography contributed by Genevieve Sheehan

reviewed by

SXSW Friday Wrap 03/18/11: Football, Trouble Andrew, Quadron, TOKiMONSTA, Obits, Little Comets, Charles Bradley, Wye Oak, Bombay Bicycle Club



Football @ Beerland

Football are officially our favorite suprise of SXSW 2011. On our way to the Virgin Mobile Live House we saw some dude that resembled a short haired Dave Grohl rocking the fuck out on the roof of Beerland. The band played below, and their sound was as raw as anything we saw at SXSW. But the sound seemed strangely familiar…. Tons of people started to gather from the streets. We got close as well. One blood stained white telecaster, Two hand drawn white t-shirts with a sharpie…Could it be? Is it? YES! Holy shit this was our dude from AV/Murder! These guys are perhaps responsible for one of the sickest sets I have ever seen. I knew I should have bought one of those damn shirts! Dudes if you’re reading this, hook us up with some custom b3sci threads! Football are fucking sick, if you like music that makes your head want to explode from just sheer brutal awesomeness, then take notice.

AV/Murder – Glossy Mags

Trouble Andrew @ Virgin Mobile Live House:

Trouble Andrew at moments seems like a sound that would have emerged from LA’s Sunset Strip if it were still relevant to music nowadays. Jeez. How many bands have we heard in LA trying do what these guys do so well? Trevor Andrew’s unique blend of raw alternative underground rock is fucking awesome. It has a hip hop sensibility, it has punk sensibility, it has commercial radio sensibility. Songs pending, these Brooklyn natives could end up everywhere. There live show is definitely an experience worth having, and after opening for the likes of Fishbone, Yelawolf, Wu Tang, and Erykah Badu during SXSW this year, they are definitely off to a right start.

Trouble Andrew – Bang Bang


Quadron @ Malverde

Everybody’s fav Danish soul duo, Quadron, played a breezy enjoyable set to Malverde’s 4th floor open-air stage. This was our first catching the duo live and suffice to say our girl Coco and our man Robin did not disappoint. Coco’s sweet sultry tones, Robin’s smooth instrumentals, Quadron’s super cool R&B-influenced pop. The prime factors were all on point during the performance. We loved Coco’s engaging yet semi-shy interactions with the crowd. “I love Texas.” “We’ve got some CDs for sale after the show. I’d love for you to buy one. Maybe I can give you a hug. I love selling.” Too cute. The set primarily consisted of songs from the band’s debut, “Buster Keaton”, “Average Fruit”, and set closer “Slippin'” were among the highlights. Malverde’s open-air 4th floor stage seemed to fit the band. It was that sort of deepest twilight, fading to night time in the day. The city glowed, buzzed behind them. The setting framed Quadron’s music perfectly. We hurriedly left Malverde in dead sprint cross town for TOKiMONSTA @ Mohawk. But we left totally pleased but what we had heard. We love Quadron!

Quadron – Slippin’



Post-crosstown hustle we slipped into the door at Mohawk just in time to catch most of TOKiMONSTA’s set. We heard hip hop classics laced up with varying heavinesses of electrobeats. Method Man’s “How High” over a pulsing synth driven rhythm. “Forgot About Dre” blended with multi-tracked hi-hats. TOKi was flawless. She seemed to be having a great time. With every sort of sound manipulation, she would smile. Kind of like, “Yeah, This Rules!” It was great. We got down. Everyone else in the place got down. It was sick. And………..Silence. One of TOKi’s sound inputs fried and the set was finished. Bogus. Still, what we saw ruled. And we’ll take what we did see as a sick preview of what a full TOKi show might be like.

TOKiMONSTA – Almost Free


Obits @ Red 7

Obits are pioneering veterans. They blow many of today’s kids clear out of the water. Playing some of the best vintage gear we’ve seen, the band ripped through some serious time rock portal straight from Red 7 to CBGB’S (see this: Get Obits a time machine and put them on a bill opening for Television. What happens?

Obits – Two Headed Coin


Little Comets @ Latitude 30

Little Comets are a new talented group emerging from the UK. They fall into a space that seems to bridge today’s indie and brit-pop pockets. Sure, it seems like a likely space but who else has made a real significant impact there? Other than the “labeling” obstacle these kids have, there is some song craftsmanship in their favor. Unlike some young bands, their abundance of intricate arrangements and melodies work and contribute to an overall sound that’s definitely got us hooked and psyched to hear what’s more.

Little Comets – Isles



Charles Bradley & the Menahan Street Band @ Cedar Street Courtyard

“Heartaches and Pain”, not just Charles Bradley’s opening song but really his life. A man of obviously tremendous talent, the sexagenerian never got the breaks or the right situation to fully realize his potential as a musician. Backed by the great Menahan Street Band, Charles Bradley entered the stage at Cedar Street Courtyard to sing out the first few notes of that song. And WOW! Unbelievable! His voice! It’s really really something! We knew we were to be witness to something really special. And it seemed Charles felt the same way, this was a great moment in his life. A true realization of a lifelong dream (as cliche’ as it sounds, in his case it’s absolutely true). Mr. Bradley had tears in his eyes during that first song and well into the set. It was just an extraordinary moment. One of the coolest concert moments, I’ve certainly ever witnessed. Anyway, back to his voice. Holy shit! Bradley’s vocal ability is off the meter. Like his records are great and he sounds terrific on them. But to hear him live, like that, it’s truly something; akin to hearing the performance of one of the great soul legends. Really. He’s that good. To hear/see him emote on tracks like “Lovin’ You, Baby” and “Why Is It So Hard”, it really gives you goosebumps. It’s the expression of profound emotional pain and depth at its most visceral and immediate level, it doesn’t get much more real than that. “The World Is Going Up In Flames”, when you hear it you believe him, like you wanna grab a bucket or a firehose or something to help put it out. You’re that moved. Charles Bradley’s set at Cedar Street was no doubt one of our favs at SXSW, if not our absolute favorite. At one point during the set, Bradley looked down at his leg to see that he had been pretty severely bleeding from his knee; the blood collected in a not so small pool of blood at his feet. “Are you alright?”, you could hear his sax player motion over to him. “Oh shit.”, said Bradley. And with that he continued.

Charles Bradley – The World Is Going Up in Flames


Wye Oak @ The Parish

In our opinion Wye Oak are one of the best bands going. If you like dynamic music and beautiful melodies how can you not love this Baltimore duo? Well their label, Merge Records, certainly loves them. Catching the later half of their official Merge showcase at the Parish, Wye Oak returned some serious love to their friends at the label. It was a lovefest. Wye Oak loves their label. No shit. Debuting material from the forthcoming release Civilian, the duo seemed reallllllly into it; positively beaming, energetic; suggesting, not only that they couldn’t wait to perform the material, that they couldn’t wait to just hear it! That’s when you know a band is proud of their music!

Wye Oak – Take It In


Bombay Bicycle Club @ Latitude 30

We could tell from our Q&A with them before their set, that BBC are introverted artistic types. We, of course, mean that in the greatest way possible. These kids were able to evolve from local band to music career in their adolescence. They are supremely talented, music is their life and that shines through. We expect many great records to come from these guys. The band Followed up their early electric guitar heavy material with a largely acoustic record, last year’s Flaws. We were intrigued at what some of their new, post-Flaws, material might sound like. The answer we got was material that was somewhere in between, definitely a sound less raw than Flaws but a bit more produced and refined, like their debut. A few gems, which we’ll certainly now be anticipating on the band’s forthcoming third album, definitely stood out. Guitar and synth-layers flowed through the impressive set of about a dozen songs, and as always the bass tone was hot, especially unique and great. BBC are completely independent and seemingly less concerned with what’s happening with their peers. The band have set course to a sound that is developing more and more into something that’s wholly their own.

Bombay Bicycle Club – Magnet


Catch all of b3sci’s SXSW 2011 coverage HERE

Photography by Genevieve Sheehan

reviewed by

SXSW Thursday Night Wrap 03/17/11: Jamie Woon, White Mystery, Jamie XX, Moby, Donnis, B.o.B., Wiz Khalifa, James Vincent McMorrow


Jamie Woon @ ND’s:

Mr. Woon brought his neo-neo-soul (or post-dubstep, whatevs) to ND’s on Thursday Night for a set at the Windish Agency House. We’re big fans of Jamie’s music and made it a priority to catch him live at SXSW (Even if it meant walking 2+ miles to get down to ND’s). So what did it sound like? Jamie Woon live is kind of like being in a really cool elevator or in the lobby of an ultra-chic hotel. The music kind of takes on this smooth jazz-esque quality at times, layers of atmospheric keys and synths tangled up with Jamie’s soulful but quiet vocal. The sound, itself, fit the performance quality of its creator, totally cool and soulful but also shy and unassuming. Jamie’s band of 2 electronic musicians and 1 live drummer did well to support the production heavy songs in a non-studio setting. Set closer and single “Lady Luck”, with its pulsing synth rhythms and syncopated beats was the far and away set highlight. As the maybe 3/4’s full room all seemed to not only know the song but really got down on it, head bobbing, finger snapping, toe tapping.

Jamie Woon – Lady Luck (Al Fresco)


White Mystery @ Headhunters:

Chicago’s rock princess Alex White, continues her streak of killer projects with White Mystery. If you love straight forward and shameless rock and roll, then this band should make your list. Their only “official” set of SXSW this year was at Headhunter’s and it runs in the top 3 for most balls-to-the-wall performances we caught all trip! Into it.

White Mystery – Ye Olde Stone


Jamie XX @ Virgin Mobile Live House:

Kickin’ it with our peeps at the Virgin Mobile Live House, we ran into none other than Jamie XX! That’s kinda cool. Then we discovered he’d be spinning a private DJ set in the living room of the VML House in the next 20 minutes. Fucking sick! The vibe was intense. With maybe 30 people packed in the room, Jamie XX flowed out a spaghetti-western intro to some classics including Biggie, and mixed it all up with some fresh ideas. It was surreal. We got down.

Rui Da Silva – Touch Me (Jamie XX Remix)


Moby @ Karma Lounge:

Moby was 100% dance party at Karma Lounge. It was a bit a surprise, as he was billed to have an “ambient DJ set”, but from the onset it was wall-to-wall body moving beats. Spinning a set most firmly rooted in his classics and beats heavy early material, Moby stayed clear away from his more cinematic and recent compositions. No matter the style of this set Moby can owns its musical spectrum. Thursday night was club night.

Moby – A Seated Night


Donnis @ La Zona Rosa:

We rolled over to La Zona Rosa for the Atlantic Showcase, an all-star lineup that included Janelle Monae, B.o.B., Lupe Fiasco, Wiz Khalifa and Atlanta MC Donnis. We were able to catch maybe 3 songs or so of his set. We noticed right away Donnis’ ability to hype the crowd, keep them entertained, keep them engaged in his performance regardless of how much or how little of his material the audience actually knew. There were fans though, a sizable portion of the crowd knew his material and knew it well enough sling it back, line for line.

Donnis – Lightning (feat. Colin Munroe)(Prod. by Count Justice + Needlz + Calvo Da Gr8)



B.o.B. @ La Zona Rosa:

In between Donnis and what we thought would be Wiz Khalifa, (official set schedule, y’all!) a recent signee to Atlantic singer-songwriter Jeffrey Jocelyn was inexplicably trotted out in front of the La Zona Rosa crowd of hip hop heads. Mr. Jocelyn did a sort of Adult Contemporary-style ballad (Think Matt Nathanson or Jason Mraz) and did it alright, but you had to feel for the guy, NO ONE was listening. Bollocks on the A&R that green lighted that move! Anyway, as Jocelyn left the stage, post his one song stand, he left with “B.o.B. is up next.” We were like, “OK, dude was prob misinformed/nervous, or maybe… our man had inside info cause he and B.o.B. really are tight.” (Jeffrey Jocelyn was introduced as “B.o.B.’s friend”.)

Sure enough, B.o.B. was introduced and from the first bar of song 1 – it was on. Verse 1. Verse 2. It was serious. It was clear the bar was being raised. B.o.B. was killing it. Seeing B.o.B. live most definitely gave us a levelled up appreciation of him as a rapper. Bobby Ray has otherworldly type skills on the mic. His rapid fire rhymes, his delivery, but also his sense of melody and dynamics. “Beast Mode”, a standout from his recent No Genre mixtape, was shredded. “Don’t Let Me Fall” took on a lyrical depth live that was unexpected. “Nothin’ On You”, B.o.B.’s Summer 2010 megahit, was cut short mid-song by the MC, “You can hear this shit all the time on the radio. What do y’all want to hear.” The crowd went bananas. He had them. That sentiment was a bit of theme for the show though, B.o.B. went hardest, seemed most interested in his less-pop material, his older mixtape material. The Atlanta MC closed the set with “Airplanes” with the crowd playing Hayley Williams, shouting back each hook with an increasing volume and intensity. B.o.B’s set was great. From the lyricism, to the songwriting, and now to the live show, dude has most definitely earned everything he’s attained so far. Win.

B.o.B. – Airplanes (Feat. Hayley Williams)



Wiz Khalifa @ La Zona Rosa:

Wiz Khalifa loves to smoke weed. If you learned anything from his approx. 40-45 minute La Zona Rosa set you had opportunity, after opportunity, after opportunity to let that be it. The Taylor Gang rolled up nice; Wiz + a dozen or so of his boys. Immediately, Wiz was on the hustle, and this would be consistent throughout the set, “Rolling Papers, March 29. Y’all gonna get Rolling Papers March 29th, right?” Hip Hop is a hustle. Wiz has had to hustle for years to get to this point. It just seemed a bit weird/surreal for an artist of his stature to be hocking the LP with such frequency, in between songs, during songs, during other rapper’s features, shit was gonna get sold. Wiz previewed quite a few tracks off the new record and, being real, the songs just aren’t that strong. The rhymes don’t hit as hard, the beats aren’t as good or varied. One of Wiz’s greatest strengths, which made this set pretty enjoyable, is just the sheer variety in his music. Midwestern style, West Coast, Southern, East Coast style, Wiz sort of marries them all. But this new shit? It sounds like the radio, but in a bad way. Hackneyed attempts to make Wiz sound “relevant”, when what made him Wiz Khalifa, major league rapper, was him and his weirdness and his weed smoking, but mostly his weirdness.

Anyway, the set was solid. “That Good”, Wiz’s recent collaboration with Snoop, ripped. “Mezmorized” was sick. Wiz even dropped in a brief tribute to Nate Dogg rhyming over “Xxplosive” and “Regulate”. Despite being high as fuck (there’s that weed thing again), Wiz came off with great energy and managed to smoothly switch the gears up post-B.o.B.’s lightning fast set. “Now I’m gonna play everybody’s favorite song.” “Black and Yellow” wrapped up the set. The Billboard #1 was a highlight. EVERYBODY knew it. Tons of fun.

Wiz Khalifa – I Choose You


James Vincent McMorrow @ Friends:

We wrapped up our St. Patrick’s Day proper at Friends’ bar. b3sci fav James Vincent McMorrow was there closing the ‘Music from Ireland’ showcase. The room was maybe half-full. A crowd of, perhaps, 75 fans stayed up late to catch the Dublin singer-songwriter. They weren’t disappointed. The beautiful “Breaking Hearts” opened the set. We’re immediately taken with the live slide guitar. It sounds phenomenal. The band sounds great. “This is the latest I’ve ever sang.”, said McMorrow as the set passed the 1:30 mark. “If I Had a Boat” was stunning. Hearing McMorrow and co. hit those harmonies live is just remarkable. The coos, and cries, the melismas remind of Jeff Buckley or even Thom Yorke. The sound situation on stage is not good. The band’s battling all sorts of onstage monitor issues. The band, McMorrow still sound crazy good. James McMorrow is a total artist. He has to do this. Music is what he has to do. “From the Woods” is gorgeous, hushed, the sweet melodies soothe our weary trekked-every-which-way-across-Austin bones. The set finishes as quietly as it started. McMorrow apologizes for the sound quality, his voice (!) and walks off stage.

James Vincent McMorrow – If I Had a Boat

Catch all of b3sci’s SXSW 2011 coverage HERE

Contributed by Alex Sheehan
Photography contributed by Genevieve Sheehan

reviewed by

SXSW Thursday Afternoon Wrap 03/17/11: Raphael Saadiq, The Vaccines, Foster the People, Cults


We arrived during Cults set, and caught a band often too overlooked on last year’s ‘best of’ lists. But not by everybody, “Go Outside” was recently re-released through Columbia. Judging by their set, and if we were gamblers (and a gentleman never tells), we’d bet pretty handsomely that you’ll be seeing a lot more action from Cults in 2011.

Cults – Go Outside


The Vaccines set was full of energy, fast-paced, and over before you knew what had happened. It says a lot when a band with a set full of short-running songs can so captivate their public (their first single runs only 1:24 long). With catchy hooks and melodies on songs like “Blow Up” and “If You Wanna”, they impressed a courtyard of eager listeners. “Wreckin’ Bar” killed. “Post Break Up Sex” had us popping around. The set was kinetic and fun. Pay attention, kids, cause The Vaccines are definitely a band to watch out for in 2011. And stay tuned for an exclusive b3sci interview with the band backstage after their set. And yes, the interview is about 50% talk about penises. C’mon what did you expect?

The Vaccines – Norgaard


Foster The People again played to make some noise. That’s sick set #2 we’d caught from them. 2-0, boys. Read about sick set #1 here.


If you know b3sci then you know that we are BIG fans of Raphael Saadiq, so suffice to say we were pretty excited to see his set next. We’d missed him at Stubb’s the night prior but left the performance at Cedar Street impressed nonetheless. Strongly rooted in jazz, blues, and R&B, Saadiq gave a performance that was funky and full of soul, mixing influences from greats like Chuck Berry and James Brown. Saadiq’s band was great. Consisting of a drummer, a bassist, two guitarists, a keyboardist, and two excellent backup singers, the Saadiq band provided a proper foundation for his sound. The pocket was tight, the harmonies were on point, and the vibe was right. Material wise, we heard a collection of new tracks from Saadiq’s forthcoming studio album, Stone Rollin’. What we heard was really really good. More of that 70’s soul inspired sound we’ve heard in singles “Good Man” and “Radio” with big beats and huge hooks.

Raphael Saadiq – Good Man

Catch all of b3sci’s SXSW 2011 coverage HERE

Photography contributed by Genevieve Sheehan

reviewed by

SXSW Wednesday Night Wrap 03/16/11: James Blake, Mona, Belle Brigade, Chapel Club, Ellie Goulding


James Blake @ Stubb’s:

There was definitely an air of anticipation (and weed) for James Blake’s first SXSW performance. After an approx. 30 minute delay due to technical problems the superstar of the Indieverse took the stage. First things, we noticed were 1) James Blake is really fucking tall. Like dude towers over everyone else on stage. 2) His band is very young. The other lads in the band were maybe 22-23. Blake started the set with “What Was It You Said About Luck”, immediately we’re struck by how strong the vocals come off live. The R&B influences are particularly palpable as Blake smooths in and out of each syrupy melodic line. The bass was really loud; windpipe shaking, back of your mouth rattling loud. The interplay between the physical intensity of the bass, the sweetness of the vocal, and the detached withdrawn quality of much of James Blake’s songs was quite powerful. “Limit to Your Love” was a highlight that included an excellent 4-5 minute dub reggae-styled section.

James Blake – Wilhelm Scream


Mona @ Antone’s:

Dressed in plain t-shirts and styled in pompadour-esque haircuts, Nashville’s Mona ripped into set opener “Trouble on the Way”. Despite some tepid early interactions with Antone’s house soundguy, the band blazed through an approx. 30 minute set with an absolute confidence and strong focus. Second song “Teenager” soared, “Listen to Your Love” filled the room. The venue was maybe 3/4’s full but those there were really feeling it and the band seemed to (almost unbelievably) level up with each song. Mona were great, a band truly in top form. Later in the set, they played some newer more Nashville, sort of Gospel-influenced material. What we heard sounded solid, with frontman Nick Brown sounding almost Joshua Tree-era Bono-esque (in a good way) at times. Mona are stars and primed to blow the fuck up on both sides of the Atlantic, and with sets like Wednesday Night’s at Antone’s (a favorite of SXSW thusfar) they’ve got the live performance chops to back up the hype.

Mona – Teenager


Belle Brigade @ The Phoenix:

We made it over to the KCRW showcase at The Phoenix just in time to catch the later half of Belle Brigade’s set. What we experienced was a well crafted, energetic set of tunes that showcased the band’s excellent harmonizing and onstage performance skills. Set closer “Losers” really cut the room well with the LA brother-sister duo’s backing band doing great work to really lift the song’s best moments.

Belle Brigade – Losers


Chapel Club @ The Phoenix:

Anticipation was high at the capacity filled Phoenix for Chapel Club’s up-to-this-date rare U.S. performance. The band opened with “Surfacing” and, at times, seemed tenuous, as if the weightiness of the moment caught the band a bit off guard. “Roads”, from the “Wintering” EP, was next and showed off the band’s newer more atmospheric sound. The chemistry onstage between guitarists Michael Hibbert and Alex Parry is really phenomenal. Their performances were definitely the highlight of the set. Singles “O Maybe I” and “All the Eastern Girls” engaged the crowd. Singer Lewis Bowman commented several times during the set to the effect that, the band were “suprised to be there”. We weren’t. Despite a few dodgier edges, Chapel Club certainly played as if they belonged on a stage like the Phoenix… or larger.

Chapel Club – After the Flood


Ellie Goulding @ Bat Bar:

The Bat Bar was packed for Ellie Goulding’s midnight set. A significant overflow crowd filled the street outside the small venue. Ellie and her fans seemed totally captivated with each other. That interaction was great. The kid’s knew and sang back the lyric to every song. What wasn’t good: The venue. Ellie and her band were jammed into a corner of a long brick corridor. The basic space and acoustics of the room made for some poor sound. We had difficulty hearing the band, hearing Ellie. From what we could hear, the band sounded small, too small for her sound. Set closer “Starry Eyed” ended the night on a positive note as the oblong room went brick discotheque, arms flailing wildly, bodies in motion, post-adolescent girl to aging hipster dude.

Tinie Tempah – Wonderman (feat. Ellie Goulding)

Contributed by Alex Sheehan
Photography contributed by Genevieve Sheehan

reviewed by

SXSW Wednesday Afternoon Wrap 03/16/11: Foster the People, Local Natives DJ Set, Mount Kimbie


The All Saints Spitalfields / I AM SOUND 2011 Day Party at Shangri-La on Wednesday was excellent, a definite contender for best day party/showcase at SXSW thus far.

Following a set from Friendly Fires, which I sadly missed, LA’s latest talk of the town Foster The People took to the stage.. or backyard tent. Fresh off the heels off of what’s likely to be LA’s best residency showing yet in 2011, this young multi-instrumentalist and multi-tasking collective proved not an ounce short of all the hype they’ve been showered with at this their first SXSW appearance. With only their Foster the People EP available to fans right now, and their single “Pumped Up Kicks” spreading like a wild fire in the blogosphere, the band proved to also be a live force to be reckoned with. Foster the People’s performance reminded me of early MGMT shows and records; the grooves, the dance party vibes. The band’s songs seemed to translate better in a live setting vs. on record, with Mark Foster’s lead vocals especially on point. How could we not love “Pumped Up Kicks” next level chorus hooks… it’s sound immediately familar (like all good pop songs) but yet unique to the band (like all great pop songs). Set highlight “Houdini”, sounded great and has equal hit potential. The best news is that every track the band played, be it even new or forthcoming material, held up without dull moment. Foster the People’s live show is definitely one to check on. It’s happy, it’s uptempo, it’s energy, it’s happening. Into it.

Foster the People – Houdini


Between the Foster set and the prep from Mount Kimbie, Local Natives set up shop inside the club for a special DJ set. They spun Mark Ronson. We sipped the free Sailor Jerry Rum. The party was flying high.

Local Natives – Who Knows Who Cares (bretonLABS Remix)


b3sci favorites Mount Kimbie took the backyard tent next with equipment poised on a… picnic bench! Kimbie were solid as expected. We caught their LA debut back in October which at the time came in tow with some sick visuals to back up the duo’s innovative brand of multi-instrumental experimental electro. As a sign of any great artist, strip that all down and the guys still kill it. Relying on great instincts with samples and overall live musical manipulation, the act’s brief but great set was a fitting auditory illustration of Kimbie’s sound. A sound palpable enough to more casual electro fans but challenging enough to keep interested the most serious fans of the genre.

Mount Kimbie – Carbonated

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SXSW Tuesday Night Wrap 03/15/11: RJD2, PS I Love You, Gold Panda, Surfer Blood


Following a day of packed interactive, legal panel discussions like “Data Customization and Privacy – Can they Coexist?” and “The Convergence of Traditional and Internet TV” it was time to jam:


First was an off-the-beaten-path-party hosted by fellow Virgin Mobile 25 brothers the BroBible at The Belmont. Got to hand it to them, dudes can throw a party… chilled shots from giant ice sculptures, models, celebrities… and great tunes. Chiddy Bang and Hoodie Allen fronted the bill but we were most psyched for the set from Columbus native producer RJD2. Ramble John Krohn owned the tables and worked the packed invite-only party as if it were his own. His smooth blend of eclectic beats made for a great atmosphere and set the mood for the night to come.

RJD2 – Ghostwriter

On the other-side of town and musical spectrum I hit up the Pitchfork Media Showcase at Emo’s. It was funny, the official “music” part of the festival had not even begun and there was already a line for badge holders. I figured, if there was any time to wait in lines at SXSW this year… why not make it on Tuesday night?


I may have missed the 3D presentation of a Deerhunter live performance, but the wait in line was worth it for Canadian noise-rock duo PS I Love You. The oddly imaged pairing of a more hip Jorge Garcia look alike and a drummer somewhere between a dark haired Larry Mullen Jr. and this guy worked better than most would think. Unlike what Surfer Blood would produce later in the evening on the same stage, these guys were rough in all of the right ways. Dynamic levels of overdrive on fantastically ragged guitar sounds combined with pounding rhythms and Paul Saulnier’s impulsive vocals to create pleasantly low-end rock and roll noise.

PS I Love You – 2012


So you’re at SXSW, you’ve made it through the line and you’re about to enter the venue and start jamming. Nah, dude, not at Emo’s. Nah, man, there’s a SECOND line for the INDOOR stage. Bogus. While waiting in the second line, I chatted up some Aussies who advised on some cool new electro acts including Skrillex and Emalkay. Sick. Sporting a dark hoodie and what looked like one of those vintage High School sports shirts that Abercrombie has been taking the piss on for the last 10 years, UK producer Derwin Panda hit the Emo’s stage; and so the digital dance party began. Lush synth queues, almost shoegaze, “chillwave?”-influenced vibes, hip-hop beats. Smooth transitions were plenty with sounds bridging gaps between dubstep and chillwave. Gold Panda showed off an excellent currency in today’s electro, working flawlessly with simple yet manic builds and tasteful well-placed samples.

Gold Panda – Marriage (Star Slinger Remix)


Surfer Blood – Harmonix

Back at the outdoor stage Surfer Blood had some sound issues… even losing audio for about 15 seconds at one point. Like pros though, they played through with their blend of feel good riff-based neo-surfer alternative. The band played very well together and the new material sounded promising. Minus weak live vocals these guys definitely delivered on the P-fork sound rather nicely. Familliar but still annoying enough to not be pleasant. They finished the set with “I’m Not ready” from their forthcoming release. CDQ.. we’re on the look out.

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SXSW 2011: b3sci Guide/Battleplan


The forces of b3sci descend on Austin, TX today for the SXSW festival. We are super super psyched. (There aren’t enough supers we can qualify that with. We’re stoked.) What shows are on our radars? Where might you be able to link up with the b3sci crew? All very important questions! We’ve put together a guide (our battleplan) to the must see b3sci-approved Night showcases and Day parties. Now all we need is that teleportation device!

Shows are color-coded together. Some day party times are approximate.

Download: b3sci Guide to SXSW 2011

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Red Cortez/Richard Swift/Everest, Live @ The Satellite, Los Angeles 02/28/11


Contributed by Christopher Gedos

Everest, Richard Swift and Red Cortez played at The Satellite (formerly Club Spaceland) on Monday, February 28th. It was the final Monday for Red Cortez’s residency. They played 4 free shows and gave away 4 free EPs (different each week) throughout the month. It was either the final Spaceland residency or the first Satellite residency, and I’m sure the crowd would’ve been at max capacity were it not for the unnecessary, corporate-driven name change.

Five piece Everest was Neil Young’s backing band on the legend’s most recent tour. I could see them slaying through hits like “Cinnamon Girl”, “Hey Hey (My My)” and “I’m The Ocean” with fury and confidence. But Everest’s Achilles’ heel is they lack a true frontman, effectively zapping them of their musical prowess. Neil has had good success launching affiliated acts: Danny Whitten sang a haunting lead on most of 1971’s eponymous Crazy Horse before he OD’ed on heroin, and Nils Lofgren has a respectable solo career along with having been part of The E Street Band since the Boss’ 1985 Born In The USA tour. Unfortunately, there’s a time and a place for everything, (not to use too many shallow platitudes in this review.) I think Everest may have been conceived 20 years too late.

Portland-based Richard Swift is a staple of Secretly Canadian records. Imagine Randy Newman singing a mix of Elliot Smith and slow Beatles jams. The emotional availability and unpretentiousness of Ben Folds mashed up with the original song structures of Andrew Bird. Both he and Everest are throwbacks; neither is indicative of the indie scene circa 2011 — more like renegade meteors passing tangential to the asteroid belt. Indie fans are very particular about their tastes. They want a particular sound, and if an artist doesn’t satisfy that need and niche, they’re very easily discarded. Such is the ease and accessibility of music today. Imagine Everest releasing a debut album in ’74 to coincide with Bad Company and Richard Swift releasing an album in ’79 to coincide with Christopher Cross.

I enjoy Swift’s temperament on stage – he doesn’t give two fucks about whether the jaded, LA crowd applauds his music. This is the mark of a true artist, an ability to separate the product from the profit. Everest’s bassist joins in on the last few songs, which prompted my friend to lean in and yell, “this guy’s got a degree in Paul McCartney!” Swift did an a cappella version of “Lady Luck” for an encore which showed off a nice Nilsson Schmilsson vibe.

I saw Red Cortez play on the 21st of February and wasn’t fully impressed. The lead singer had a manic quality bordering on histrionics. I thought the songs were decent but simply couldn’t justify his gimmickry. But he was much more subdued during the show on the 28th. Maybe his band mates sat him down and said, “Don’t resort to that, you’re better than that.” Whatever happened, his toned-down performance was infinitely more believable and truthful. There was also more interaction between the singer and the other band members the second time around.

All their songs are really pretty good, almost anthemic but not there yet. Like Mona, Red Cortez is hoping they take a long time before they discover their ceiling. Unlike Mona, I think Red Cortez’s singer could have a Bono-type stage presence if he tames himself and chooses more wisely his emotional freak-outs. There’s a lot of British post-punk here (Ocean Rain, anyone?) along with the indie Americana of Neutral Milk Hotel and Modest Mouse. Teaming up with Kings of Leon producer Ethan Johns for their upcoming debut LP will prove a wise move for Red Cortez, as I think Johns will nurture their sound much like he did on Youth and Young Manhood and Aha Shake Heartbrake.

Listening to the 2 EPs, I’m even more impressed than Monday’s show. Is Red Cortez’s talent schizophrenic? Which band were they in the recording studio? Which band will they be if they play the Wiltern, Metro or Hammerstein Ballroom? In the lead singer’s defense, he donned a megaphone for the encore, but that was one of the first times he didn’t take himself too seriously. I’d like to see more playfulness from them. You have to separate the art from the business.

Red Cortez: Official / Myspace
Richard Swift: Official / Myspace
Everest: Official / Myspace



RATING: 7.9999999


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Mona, Live @ The Echo, Los Angeles 2/9/11


Mona played a thirty-minute set Wednesday night at the Echo, a live venue on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles’ Echo Park, to an 85-90% capacity crowd. They were only the second band, technically opening for Vanaprasta, although Mona was listed higher on the bill in their defense. And while Vanaprasta does have merits of their own, I left after the Mona set, as did most of the rest of the crowd, because that’s who I went there to see, and I didn’t want to listen to another band who might cloud my then-vivid impression of the Nashville-based four piece’s L.A. debut.

L.A. Band Polls are a three piece which remind me of the inchoate indie scene circa ’85-’96, back when The Replacements’ song “Left of the Dial” was a sort of encrypted message for where you could find those under-the-radar acts ostracized by the MTV burgeoning megalith. Such timely influences are sprinkled throughout, everything from early Smashing Pumpkins to Dinosaur Jr. to My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth. They’d make a good Neil Young backing band. What’s impressive about Polls is how they get the sound of a four piece out of only three members, which speaks volumes about their individual talents and their cohesiveness as a band. Their bassist’s tone was impeccable, the drummer was solid, and the guitar parts were quite inventive. Signed to indie label Jaxart, two big things are holding Polls back from achieving more immediate notoriety. The first is their absolute lack of image, and I’m not talking about decking them out in Mao jackets, but they gotta try a little harder to not look like engineers or classical musicians. The second and more important is their lack of a true frontman. Their guitarist, who handles lyrical duties, is passable, but an arresting voice is what’s really keeping Polls from arising out of the slushpile. That being said, a good band.

Mona’s attracting scary attention in the UK right now. NME posts about them regularly, including Wednesday’s blurb about their UK tour, self-titled debut LP in May, and their headlining show at the Electric Ballroom on May 17th, surely to be their biggest to date. Their initial success in the U.K. speaks volumes about the sorry state of public interest in the American Rock Scene. Although there were a few groupies at the Echo show (bravo), most of the attendees were “in the know” and there to see if Mona’s poised to become the next Kings of Leon, the band Mona is most directly compared to, since both bands are based in Nashville and grew up performing Christian music. Will Mona spin on KROQ? Heck, will it play in Peoria? Their appearance in Austin next month will surely prove a deciding factor for their 2011, at least here in the States.

Mona, unlike Polls, exudes image and style. They wear tight black jeans, a Nashville giveaway, but I once heard that girls like tight, black jeans! These guys have channeled their inner Elvis! They don’t give a shit as they plug in their guitars. They know they’re good as they attack their first song with the freedom of a jam session. They equal or surpass Kings of Leon in decibel level. The tastemakers are held at bay and forced to congregate closer to the stage. This is American music, music which epitomizes the vastness and diversity of the North American landscape.

Their fourth song of the night was “Listen To Your Love”, arguably their most radio-ready hit. The three part backing vocals at the end are top-notch. The groupies belt out every lyric at the front of the stage, and behind them a cluster of digital cameras take video. After they finish to a restrained applause behind a few whoops and hollers, their lead singer remarked, “I don’t believe any of the bad things I’ve heard about L.A. crowds,” and I couldn’t help but wonder if he meant it facetiously. And yet as Mona continued onto the second half of their set, I wonder if they take themselves too seriously.

Signed to Island Records, Mona is surely a band to watch. The voice, music, and songwriting are all there, so the quality of their eponymous album will depend on the production values. I just hope that Mona is a band that takes a long time before they discover their ceiling.

Contributed by Chris Gedos

Mona – Listen To Your Love

Mona – Walk in the Park (Beach House Cover)

Official Site
Purchase Info




RATING: 8.444

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The Vaccines, Live @ Spaceland, Los Angeles 01/25/11


The energy at The Spaceland was palpable last night for the West Coast debut of the next great U.K. guitar band, The Vaccines. However, there were two L.A. Bands opening for them, upon whom I must touch before turning my attention to the main draw.

Bixby Knolls play heavy, conscious guitar pop. They seem to have a faithful coterie of followers who were quite familiar with their songs. Their lead singer plays with a confident nonchalance while emotionally interacting with the crowd through the music, a prerequisite for any successful frontman. Their sound is of the UK rock tradition, a mélange of The Clash, The La’s and Echo and the Bunnymen. While they might not reinvent the wheel, there’s definitely a good bit of traction on their musical tires!

After a brief intermission of less than twenty minutes, Sweaters took the stage. I would technically call them a four piece, although there was a fifth member who participated on most of the songs, mostly banging away at the tambourine and sprinkling in some Saxophone at times. The lead singer plays the keys, with the bassist doing a strong back-up vocal, along with a guitarist and drummer. They have a raucousness which is representative of the best Rock. They’re unconcerned with derivation or with being sandwiched into the subgenre of the month. My main gripe is that the singer lacked the stage presence of the Bixby Knolls frontman.

Sweaters have fun on stage. A lot of fun on stage. This cannot be stressed enough. In an ‘indie’ scene which came to be defined in the 2000’s by the minor key, it’s so refreshing to hear joyous pop/rock music in whatever incarnation that may be. They also have a comfort with the technical aspects of playing which leads me to believe that more than one member has a background in Classical Music.

Sonically, they’re all over the place, which I think is a good thing in this instance. Their singer sounds a little too much like David Byrne, but hey, who doesn’t these days? They’ve got everything from Todd Rungren to Warren Zevon to The Modern Lovers to The Doobie Brothers lumped within their sound. Essentially, the keyboard, which was turned WAY UP, sets a foundation for their sound in the popular 1970’s vein. This homage, this sense of nostalgia, is probably their greatest strength and their most glaring weakness, as I can’t quite say that they’ve amalgamated their sounds into one cohesive style all their own. Will they be representative of Matisse before or after 1905? Youth is wasted on the young, and also on the next great band, which is why a band like The Vaccines coming together makes for such a magical, ineffable experience.

At least one A-list celeb (A-minus in the eyes of some) was in the audience last night! It wouldn’t be a sold out show in Los Angeles without at least one familiar face. Creativity breeds creativity. The intellectually curious artist will make it a point to search out the cutting edge across various modes of expression.

Nobody moved as Sweaters left the stage. None of that usual dispersal toward bathrooms, bar-counters and cigarettes. The anticipation continued to build as the mics were tested. It was clear to me that this wasn’t a concert in Kansas City or (dare I say) my hometown of Cleveland. The jaded L.A. crowd has seen, heard, and done everything — their expectations were through the roof for a show with unrelenting consistency. The audience was littered with stoic Industry faces, betting the under on the length of The Vaccines’ set, which the bookmakers had probably pegged at 27 minutes!

The Vaccines take the stage around 11:05. Confident with the sound levels, they blast immediately into their first hit, ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’. Lead singer Justin Young, stripped of guitar on the 85 second cut, commands the stage, both playful and serious, toeing the line which separates gimmickry from insouciance. He dons his guitar for the second song and almost the entirety of the rest of the set. He’s especially confident and competent playing rhythm while singing. I hear fleeting snippets of The Ramones and The Beach Boys in their sound. They have the same lack of pretention as on ‘Please Please Me’ (is it sacrilege to say that?)

NME has proven over the decades a priceless ability to peer into that crystal ball of theirs and predict the future of UK Rock n’ Roll. The Vaccines is the band Interpol could’ve been had Turn On The Bright Lights been released in 1998 and they weren’t so indebted to Joy Division and The Bunnymen. For a band that’s only been together one year, The Vaccines’ continuity and vision is incredible. Even the cool crowd had let down their guard by the end of the first song. Will this be the band to break the current American prejudice toward UK guitar bands? The specialness of the night isn’t lost on the four-piece from London, for this may have been their first time on the West Coast, flying into LAX and seeing the endless Pacific. If that’s not inspiring for an artist, I don’t know what is.

‘Post Break-Up Sex’ is their paradigmatic song, I would say. It was played early in the set. For the self-mockery of the title, the sound is serious. The lyrics are emotional and intellectual. They’re not dripping with metaphor but produce highly specialized images. The same can be said for ‘Blow It Up’, which draws the quickest link to The Beatles of ’63 and ’64, but also discloses a little Replacements and even Roy Orbison on a strain of their musical genome.

I hear the Jesus and Mary Chain comparisons on ‘If You Wanna’, which was the fifth or sixth song of the set. There’s a touch of ‘Taste of Cindy’ and ‘Happy When It Rains’ in there, but again the influences are pushed to the background. The Vaccines sound like The Vaccines. They switch up their sound without pastiche or derivation, something Sweaters attempted in vain. ‘If U Wanna’ has a singalong quality by the second or third listen. They’re not as camp as The Arctic Monkeys, and not as repetitive as Franz Ferdinand, but I can’t comment authoritatively, since I’ve only seen Franz Ferdinand in a large venue, not a hotspot as intimate as The Spaceland.

The Vaccines closed their set with a cover of The Standells’ ‘Good Guys Don’t Wear White’, followed by another less than two minute track, ‘Noorgard’. In total, they played for about 35 mintues, covering the spread. They warned us in advance that they wouldn’t play an encore, but I was left wanting more regardless. I think the Vaccines are approaching the game like businessmen. They lack ego and hubris in their interviews. There’s a hunger and drive to their playing — they won’t rest on the buzz surrounding their debut, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines, slated for release on March 21st through Columbia Records, for which I shall wait with bated breath. Tell your friends and your frenemies: THIS IS THE BAND TO WATCH!!!

RATING: 9.728

Contributed by Chris Gedos

The Vaccines – We’re Happening

The Vaccines – Blow It Up





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DJ Shadow, Live @ House of Blues, Boston 11/14/10



DJ Shadow came to Boston for inspiration and for feedback. The massively influential turntabilist is in process of crafting a new record. “It’s been a long time, Boston… How long has it been since I played a solo show here?”

The reaction to Shadow’s hyphy-influenced 2006 LP The Outsider (we loved it btw) was divisive, even among his core fanbase. Leading the DJ to question, “Repeat Endtroducing over and over again? That was never, ever in the game plan. Fuck that. So I think it’s time for certain fans to decide if they are fans of the album, or the artist.” At the show, Shadow stated he wanted to get the “temperature of the fans”. And as such is likely the nature of the Shadowsphere tour to engage with, connect to, and re-inspire not only his fans but the artist himself with them. And the fans came out.




“Shadowsphere awaiting host.” A diverse mass of 1000 plus; from hip hop heads to dreadlocked dudes; middle aged and beyond husbands and wives to gangly college and high school kids feverishly awaited their host’s impending arrival. The kids were loud, chants of “Shadow, Shadow, Shadow, Shadow” greeted the DJ as he entered stage, greeted the crowd, and took to inside the Shadowsphere.

The Shadowsphere, a spherical canvas ball of maybe 15-20 feet in diameter stood starkly onstage against a wider film screen-like background. With the first few notes of “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt.” The sphere and screen lit up, exploding visually into a collage of imagery. Images of stars, planets & the depths of space grew into time lapse footage of plants and flowers and into more grating, disturbing images of hate and warfare. The shadowsphere itself was often used a 3-D imaged object against the screen background. The shadowsphere transformed into an eyeball within the eye socket of a human face and into a baseball hurling through Yankee Stadium. “A lot of people say DJ’ing as an art form is dead or its in decline. …..(I think its) only progressing, moving forward. ….Much through shows like this ….and visuals like this…..”, spoke Shadow a varying points throughout the set.




The bass shaked and rumbled, moved first from your core, jarring you, then spreading, pulsing through limbs and into your appendages, rattling you. Shadow’s use of his own canon of material as means to showcase his fluency with more contemporarily informed beats was really really cool. Using elements of drum and bass and other more European rhythmic forms, familiar jams like “Six Days” and “Organ Donor” were transformed. Breathing that currency of action and motivation, revelation that what is new can inspire, the emotional relationship the fan has with those songs and their familiarity, that convergence made for a truly moving listening experience.

“I’ll definitely be back. See you next year.” said Shadow at the close of his main set. Awesome. We’ll definitely be back too.




DJ Shadow – Six Days (Remix) (Feat. Mos Def)

DJ Shadow – This Time (I’m Gonna Try It My Way)


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