Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New site for Festival Preview

Hello festival-goers,

Festival Preview has recently gone through a major site upgrade and will now be posting festival news for all genres on the new beta version of The rock section of the new site can be found here. Come sign up at the new site and join in on the fun!

Jessica Bailiff
Publishing Associate
Festival Preview

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Outside Lands: the time is upon us

By Mike Ruby

I'm posting this article immediately after selling off my Lollapalooza ticket. It was difficult to part with, but this cloud has a silver lining that could lift the spirits of festival-goers nationwide. Outside Lands, which I've since nicknamed Silver Lining Festival '08, is less than a month away, making attendees giddier than a kid in a candy shop.

I, for one, couldn't be more ecstatic. At the ripe old age of nineteen, I've been to a lot of concerts in my day, but I've never seen either Radiohead or Beck live, let alone in the same evening. I have, however, attended one or more performances by Primus, Ben Harper, Rodrigo y Gabriela, The Coup, Tom Petty, Cold War Kids, Rogue Wave, and Toots & the Maytals, and it's safe to say that every one of them is well worth seeing again. I'm also intrigued by Lyrics Born, The Black Keys, and Mike Gordon (sans Phish), all three of which are said to put on excellent shows.

With any freshman festival, you never know how it will turn out or how it will be received. Outside Lands has the potential to become the new Coachella. On the other hand, it could bomb worse than Britney at the VMAs. I find the latter to be very unlikely, but again, you never know.

It's high time that San Francisco host a major festival, and I couldn't be happier that Golden Gate park is being utilized to its full extent. I find the venue to be more beautiful and suitable for a festival than Chicago's Grant Park or even Central Park in NYC. In a cramped and compact city like SF, the park provides a haven of open space. Not only that, but places within the park such as Stow Lake, the DeYoung Museum, the tea garden, and the Academy of Sciences have been a few of my favorite destinations since I was born not too far from there. Now that I live across the bay in Oakland (aka San Francisco's bastard stepchild), a find that something new and exciting happens every time I go into the city, and I predict that the SF atmosphere will make the Outside Lands experience that much more powerful.

As August 22 draws nearer and nearer, my excitement level has been going up exponentially. Every element of Outside Lands is unbearably intriguing. I'm even a little excited to see Jack Johnson for God's sake. That's how you know you've created a damn good festival. Silver Lining '08, here we come.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rodrigo y Gabriella—a Rothbury discovery

By Andrea Moreno-Beals

The best part of any festival is discovering a fantastic new artist or band that you have never heard before. I had such an experience when I stumbled upon the main stage set by Latin jazz rock fusion duo Rodrigo y Gabriella.

I had just finished listening to what had been up to that point the highlight of my Rothbury weekend — folkly bluesman Taj Mahal. How could it get any better than sitting in the first row right in front of an artist I have loved for years but had never seen live. And he played many of my favorite songs of his that I had been hoping to hear.

When Taj finished up, I wandered over to the main stage to see what was going on there, and sheer amazement rapidly spread over me with every step as I approached Rodrigo y Gabriella's show.

At first I couldn't believe they had booked just two guitar players on the main stage, especially since they didn't seem to be playing any kind of rock n' roll. Soon I realized that they weren't singing either.

It was all instrumental music that they were playing, and yet they had a huge crowd of thousands of people in front of them ecstatically moving to the rapid and invigorating rhythms of their flamenco-style arrangements. The energy was infectious. It was like they were the source of a huge wild fire that had spread over the field full of people.

For the first time that weekend, I was taken out of time and place by the music I was hearing — transported to that place of sheer joy and inspiration that only a live music experience can send you. Bravo for an unforgettable festival experience.

Rothbury should embrace Michigan music scene

By Dustin Edward

Now that the first Rothbury Festival is in the books, it serves as a case-in-point of how to give a big boost to a local economy and save the farm (or ranch, in this instance). Bring in the biggest stages with the best gear and put on the biggest name artists. That'll bring out the people, and everything else follows.

That's what any festival is about, making a city of the people, and creating mass coherence through shared experience. In this case, Rothbury City was built by some of the nation's finest — young, old and corporate alike —people from across the land doing what they do best. I think everybody left honored to have been a part of it.

It took a lot of organizing to get this fest started, and I appreciate being able to see a show as good as any in the nation, right in my backyard.

As great as it was, Rothbury hardly felt like a Michigan festival. The "vibe" that goes with Northern Michigan festivals is some of the best in the land. You'll find voices that speak to your heart. You'll find a town of people who recognize the importance of sharing, sustainability, community building, and music.

First, there weren't many Michigan artists onstage and in the lineup, only two that I counted. This is a state that can support a three-day festival with strictly Michigan artists (check out Hoxeyville). It was a shame that Rothbury missed the chance to include more of the local culture.

I understand that the festival was designed to draw attendees from across the region. A lot of the locals just couldn't afford the high ticket price, or if they did, it meant that they were going to have to miss out on other Michigan fests.

That's the hard line of sustainability that we're dealing with as a planet. It's hard to throw a big festival while maintaining truly sustainable practices, including investing profits back into the community. Sustainability is not just a matter of recycling waste from a festival. It includes the full life-cycle of everything that goes into it—and out of it.

Growing a festival organically takes time. To get Rothbury off the ground and on the map in its first year, the organizers needed to bring in most of the infrastructure from outside, and to transplant the festival in our local soil. Hopefully this transplant will be harmonious and healing to its surrounding environment, and not an invasive species getting a hold over this region.

It is up to us now to do our part to help it grow in the right way. All of the reports I've heard give me hope that the festival promoters are going to work more with Michigan's local culture to make this a Michigan summer music festival fixture, starting off the season with a bang.

Then we Michiganders can head off to Blissfest, Hoxeyville, Dunegrass and Wheatland, to name a few — festivals with years of history and a roots connection with the local scene.

The peninsulated region of Michigan might as well be an island, so every action comes back around. If people are going to come here from afar, that is great. Let's introduce them to peninsula vibe and give them a taste of our culture, whether it's our super beer, our local businesses or our amazing musicians.

And as we enjoy the smaller budget local events, we can use that perspective to understand how we can best integrate Rothbury '09 into the Northern Michigan festival community — there's room for everybody to be a part. Whether that happens by creating a local stage (a little Michigan festival within a national festival) or by having smaller acts in between bigger acts, we can make it even better by building it with the local community.

Next year at Rothbury, we can be patronizing a world-class Michigan brewery like Short's, Bell's or Founder's while listening to some world-class singer/songwriters from right here in our backyard. All the people that travel long distance to see the big acts will take that peninsula vibe with them back to their own lands and spread the word about the culture brewing right here in Michigan.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Mile High announces stage schedule

With Rothbury underway this holiday weekend, the next of the big new rock festivals for 2008 is Mile High Music Festival, two weeks out at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City CO, outside Denver. Today, the festival announced its jam-packed five-stage lineup. Here's a few observations:

The two big headliners, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Dave Matthews Band, close each night on the SanDisk Main Stage, beginning around 9 pm and without competition from the other stages. A late-night Rebel Alliance Jam runs both nights in a side tent after headline act, running till 1 am.

The other open air stages are the Bullsnake and Lizard stages, and two covered venues are the Bison and Elk tent stages. Each will host from four to six acts on each of the festival's two days, and each will have appeal.

Besides the headliners, the Main Stage will host John Mayer, O.A.R., Citizen Cope, Rodrigo y Gabriela and more. At Bullsnake, you can catch The Black Crowes, Michael Franti, Steve Winwood and Flogging Molly. Lizard features some of the best local bands, but also acts like m.o.e., Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat.

Head for the tents for relief from the afternoon sun. The Bison tent stage has Andrew Bird and Spoon on Saturday, Leftover Salmon and The Roots on Sunday. On the Elk tent stage, JJ Grey & MOFRO and Lupe Fiasco are the Saturday draws, while Grace Potter & The Nocturnals and Pinback hold forth Sunday.

The five-stage schedule offers an infinite set of choices that will drive some attendees crazy trying to fit everything in. My advice is to pick four or five artists that you want to be sure to see start to finish, and then fill in as many partial sets of others that you can reasonably do.

But don't expect to see every act you are interested in — if you try you'll find that you didn't stay long enough to really enjoy any of them.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Vibes inks a five-year deal in Bridgeport

By Dan Ruby

After trying out several sites during its 13-year history, Gathering of the Vibes is settling in for an extended stay at the 370-acre Seaside Park in Bridgeport CT. The festival and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch will sign a five-year contract that will keep The Vibes in place through at least 2012.

This year's event comes off July 31–Aug. 3 with The Neville Brothers, The Black Crowes, and Phil Lesh & Friends headlining. This will be the second consecutive year at the site since the park was renovated several years ago. GOTV also took place in the same location in 1999 and 2000.

In a statement, Mayor Finch said, “We’re excited to continue developing Bridgeport’s relationship with Gathering of the Vibes. The Vibes is an exceptional addition to Bridgeport’s blossoming arts and entertainment scene, as well as a tremendous opportunity to showcase the Park City to thousands of out-of-town guests from throughout the country.”

The four-day festival attracts as many as 20,000 attendees per day. In addition to hosting 40 bands on three stages, the festival features environmental activities, custom arts and crafts vendors, and kids program. Public transportation options are plentiful, making the site easily accessible from anywhere in the region.

The festival and city officials will hold a public contract signing event June 27 at the Seaside Park Bandshell, and the 2008 festival opens for business just about a month after that.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Outside just keeps getting better and better

By Mike Ruby

It's always refreshing when a brand new festival emerges onto the scene for the general public to sink its teeth into. Outside Lands has done just that, and while its still two months away, the festival has already proven itself to be the new kid on the block who's intriguing mystique lures people in. I'd put my money on Outside Lands selling out, especially after its latest additions to the lineup. Toots & the Maytals and Rogue Wave are two new ones that I thoroughly look forward to. I've been a loyal Toots fan ever since I discovered them during a reggae festival at Berkeley's Greek Theater. Considering how long the Maytals have been around, they carry themselves on stage as if they hadn't been playing the same songs for thirty years. Their performance at Outside Lands is not to be missed.

As for Rogue Wave, a band from my home town of Oakland CA, their indie vibe ought to integrate quite nicely into the already diverse lineup. Frankly, it took Rogue Wave a couple albums to get their sea legs, but at this point in time, they're ready to rock. When I watched them open for Death Cab a few days ago (also incidentally at the Greek), the band played with enough energy and confidence to turn the thankless job of being the opening band into a legitimate performance. If you've never seen Rogue Wave, circle them on your festival schedule. Also recently included are The Walkmen, Mike Gordon, Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet feat. Bela Fleck, Vienna Teng, Howlin' Rain, Everest, The Dynamites and Carney. Not too shabby.

Like Rothbury, another freshman summer festival, Outside Lands has a group of headliners that would make the average festival-goer require a clean pair of undergarments. Personally, I'd say that the Radiohead/Beck/Primus trifecta seems like more than enough reason to attend the festival. On top of that, Tom Petty, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and the Coup sweeten the deal and The Black Keys and Ben Harper are icing on the cake.

As part of my previous post, I stated my views toward Jack Johnson and how he is less than deserving of the closing slot. However, looking at the size of his fan base, lots of people clearly see in his music something that I don't. So if he's gotten successful enough to headline the final day of a three-day festival, more power to him. The same goes for Wilco and Widespread panic. I don't really get all the hype, but in all fairness, I haven't seen either live, so you never know. The important thing is that all the other bands are still there and the great vastly outweighs the mediocre.

My hat goes off to the producers of Outside Lands. If it turns out as well as I think it will, San Francisco is in for an event the likes of which it has never seen. Hang in there. There's only two more months left to go. Stay tuned for more posts on Outside Lands.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

California Worldfest set to kick off July 17th

With Ozomatli as the veritable headliner, the California Worldfest will run from the 17th to the 20th at the Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, CA. With more artists TBA, Worldfest already boasts over 25 artists, and the festival certainly retains the right to use the word "World" in its title-- it's not just reggae that will be played here. Celtic rock, gypsy, Afropop and Sufi trance music are just  some of the world musics that will be encountered in Grass Valley this year; bands are coming from locales as diverse as Iran and Australia.

In keeping with its name, this event will not only feature musicians, but also artisans from around the globe. In addition, there will be a kids program for youngsters' entertainment while adult festivalgoers enjoy the jamming coming out of the festival's eight stages.

If you get your tickets in advance, you can get access to the festival's four days of music and activities, as well as camping, for $140, while non-camping four-day passes go for $120. Single-day tickets will be $60 w/camping and $39 without camping in advance, with the gate prices for campers and non-campers being $70 and $45, respectively.

To check out more of what the 2008 edition of the California Worldfest has to offer, go to the festival's official website.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Take the ferry to All Points West

The All Points West Music & Arts Festival will operate a ferry service to deliver customers between downtown Manhattan and the festival site at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Needless to say, this will provide an attractive option for New Yorkers going to the festival.

Ferry service begins at noon and runs until all festival patrons have returned to Manhattan on all three days of the festival, August 8, 9 and 10. The 15-minute excursion departs from Pier 11 at Wall Street on the East River. The ride passes the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

The round-trip fare is $20 at the early bird price and $30 purchased the day of the show. Tickets are available at Three-day ferry passes are not available.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Rothbury Makes Adds, Think Tank Announcements

The addition of Trey Anastasio to the lineup of Rothbury Music Festival has just been announced by festival organizers. He is set to perform officially for the first time since December of 2006 at the festival. Anastasio is only one on a list of additions, that include Kraak & Smaak, Underground Orchestra,  DJ Harry, Pnuma Live PA and Fiction Plane. The new lineup can be viewed here

In addition, organizers have released the schedule for Rothbury's in-house thnk-tank. Notable events and panelists include Nobel Prize-winning climate scientist Dr. Stephen Schneider and a live taping of the nationally syndicated radio show etown. For the Rothbury Think Tank's full schedule, click here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rothbury unveils Think Tank program

By Nick Frazier

Every big music festival pays lip service to sustainability and green practices, but the upcoming Rothbury Festival (July 3-6, Rothbury MI) is looking to differentiate itself by devoting a complete program of panel discussions, workshops and hands on activities to the environmental awareness.

The festival today announced details for the Think Tank program. Sessions run all afternoon Friday, Saturday and Sunday in three venues around the JJ Ranch site. A distinguished faculty of environmental leaders—Eban Goodstein, Hunter Lovins, Stephen Schneider and lots more—will host the panels.

Typical session topics include "The Path to Energy Independence and a New American Energy Revolution" and "How America's Youth Are Driving the Energy Revolution." Several of the sessions feature a "focus on the festival" in looking to apply global topics to the festival experience.

Some sessions will also feature musical guests such as Michael Franti, Citzen Cope and others. The nationally syndicated radio program eTown will provide coverage from the conference that will air on XM and 240 radio outlets following the festival.

Speaking of music, the festival also announced more additions to the music lineup, most notably Trey Anastasio (formerly of Phish). Also added: Kraak & Smaak, Underground Orchestra, DJ Harry, Pnuma LIve and Fiction Plane.

The complete lineup, which is headed by Dave Matthews Band, Widespread Panic and John Mayer, remains one of the best music menus of the summer, so you have to wonder how many Rothbury attendees are going to sacrifice seeing bands for attending the Think Tank. The detailed music schedule has not yet been posted by the festival, so it isn't possible to see what the conflicts will be.

Hopefully, for many attendees, the conference sessions will provide a change of pace and they will take the time to attend a couple of the panels. Rothbury deserves credit for devoting resources and attention to raising awareness, and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact the conference has on the festival audience and the rock music market generally.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rothbury aims to make a splash with water park

By Nick Frazier

With the recent release of the venue map for Rothbury music festival, to be held in Rothbury, Michigan on July 3-6, the focus is on the festival venue. The Double JJ Ranch, a large family camping and golf resort, offers a substantial number of attractions that make Rothbury more than “just another music festival.”

One example: a water park! The Gold Rush Water park is a staple of the resort will be open during the festival. Alas, nothing in this world is free. For $20, you get admission to the water park, a ride from the festival grounds to the park, plus a towel and shower. The park features multiple water slides, a wave pool, lazy river and several child-oriented areas.

I suppose the water park will be an attraction to some festival attendees, but I can't imagine many will want to sacrifice an afternoon of music for the experience. The greatest benefit of the park to festival-goers may be the showers, but $20 is pretty steep for that, especially since showers are also available in the campground for festival attendees.

With all the ways to spend money at Rothbury, cavorting on the water slides is just the latest enticement from festival promoters to draw a big crowd for the first-time festival. Expect to hear about more ways to enhance your festival experience (and spend your money) as the event approaches.

FN sets details for Whistler and Jackson Hole fests

Festival Network fleshed out its strategy for producing quality new events in resort locations by announcing details this week for two new properties, Whistler Music Festival and Jackson Hole Music Festival. Both festivals will present mainly rock lineups, but the emphasis is on performers like Elvis Costello and Wilco that will attract an older and better-heeled audience than some of the mainstream rock festivals.

Both events take place at major mountain resort destinations and will offer an attendee experience that reflects the upscale positioning. No camping facilities will be provided, since the tourism associations partnering with Festival Network on the events are mostly interested in filling condo rooms during the summer season. Both locations offer plenty of good off-site camping options.

The preliminary lineup for the Whister Festival shapes up as a diverse set of artists that could appeal to more discerning festival-goers. The list starts with Elvis Costello, who will apparently take a night off from a U.S. tour with The Police, for the Whistler engagement. Others named so far are The Roots, Broken Social Scene, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Medeski Martin & Wood, Bedouin Soundclash and Serena Ryder.

The event will be held July 19-20 at The Tube Park at Base II on Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler, the ski resort 75 miles north of Vancouver BC that will host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. It is flying into direct competition from Live Nation Canada's Pemberton Festival, which runs a week later in the same market. Pemberton will present Coldplay, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Nine-Inch Nails, Jaz-Z, The Tragically Hip and lots more on two stages.

The shootout for the British Columbia market in July is a microcosm of the competitive North American festival market as a whole in 2008, in which a half dozen or more big new festivals are launching first-time events during a period of economic slowdown.

Festival Network's Jackson Hole event has a slightly alt-country tilt, with Wilco and Son Volt among the headliners and The Avett Brothers on the bill. The Black Crowes also get headliner billing, and Medeski, Martin & Wood, Backdoor Slam and Kaki King round out the preliminary lineup. Additional artists will be announced for both festivals in the coming weeks.

The Jackson Hole event takes place in a natural outdoor amphitheater at the base of the Bridger Gondola in Teton Village, adjacent to Grand Teton National Park. According to Festival NetworkCEO Tom Shepard, Jackson Hole embodies the qualities the company wants to define its festivals—"presenting a diverse array of artists for the refined musical ear in a unique destination setting."

Two-day tickets are $120 for Whistler and $130 for Jackson Hole. Single day passes are also available and VIP packages including accommodations will be announced soon. Visit the Festival Network site for full details.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Monterey Music Summit pushed back to October

                                   Photo Credit:
After being given a conditional permit to hold the second edition of his festival, Monterey Music Summit, at Laguna Seca Recreation Area, presenter Joe Fletcher has decided that the conditions are just a bit too costly (or unnecessary). According to a release from the festival's PR firm, Fletcher plans to relocate the festival to an unknown Monterey, CA-area location in October of this year.

The reason for the costly permit is everybody's favorite Southern Californian rapper-entrepreneur, Snoop Dogg. Appeals from local residents, who cited Snoop's violent lyrics and suggested that his connections with various gangs would be strong enough to attract a critical mass of opposing factions to the festival, led one member of Monterey County's Board of Supervisors to vote against the permit and the four other members to attach a security proviso before allowing it.

The proviso, according to the Salinas Californian, mandates the following measures to be taken in order for the festival to go on as planned, with Snoop at Laguna Seca: presence of undercover Monterey County Sheriff's deputies at the festival, a ban on all firearms except for those used by on-duty law enforcement, extra searches for Snoop Dogg, his entourage and vehicles; last, but not least, metal detectors for everyone going into the venue. The press release mentions "heightened security demands... noise restrictions (and) production costs" as major factors for the rescheduling, along with "minimal demand for camping."

In response, Fletcher has decided not to do any more festivals on land controlled by Monterey County. Understandably so (my apologies if you thought that this was going to be a standard un-biased news item).  The events that have Fletcher and the festival is pure lunacy, and I feel like I almost shouldn't explain why it is, for it might be insulting to your intelligence.

Snoop was an active member of the large L.A. street gang the Crips in high school (the late 80's) and has faced numerous recent charges for gun and drug possessions. However, he's also a 20 million album-selling father of three and has done a track with the Game, who has an affiliation with the Bloods, who have a major historical rivalry with the Crips. 

In addition, Snoop is the only performer at the festival with any ties to a major street gang like the Crips whatsoever, so its doubtful that many members of any gang would show up in the first place. Laguna Seca is pretty well removed from the San Francisco and L.A. metro areas, so it doesn't seem like a good place for some major showdown to occur, no matter who would perform there.   

Let's just hope that the griot of the L.B.C. maintains his wits and opts to play in October. 

No word on how the lineup will be impacted by the announcement.

Ticketholders will be contacted by for refunds. 

-- Ross Moody

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bonnaroo schedule announced

                                                            Photo Credit: Showclix
Friends, start your meticulous planning again. The official schedule for Bonnaroo 2008 (June 12-15 in Manchester TN) has been announced. Spread out over 7 stages, the schedule chart at Bonnaroo's website makes the blockbuster festival look a bit more modest than did the single huge mass of artist names that was published earlier.

Part of the modesty has to do with the fact that no one is even playing on the What (main) or Which (1st support) stage until Friday, the 13th. Spooky.

With the Vampire Weekend as the veritable headliner (latest show on the "mainest" operating stage) on Thursday, Metallica will come right after Chris Rock (yes, he's not playing in the comedy venue) on Friday at the What (main) Stage. For my money, that's about the most exhausting live entertainment 1-2 punch anyone could put themselves through. First Rock's pummeling verbal assault, and then Metallica's equally mind-lacerating sonic onslaught. Let's hope there aren't to many seizures-- from psychotropic substances or non-drug-induced sensory overload-- on Friday.

Pearl Jam and Phil Lesh and Friend's will no doubt bring maximum jams on as they round out Saturday on the What Stage, though at 1:00 a.m. people might want to just chill out a bit and focus on Sigur Rós's cosmic art-rock, in the That Tent (the 3rd support venue). There will be plenty of jamming to catch on Sunday, with Derek Trucks ending the That Tent's run, and Widespread Panic headlining. 

As far as comedy goes, performances will come mainly in the form of three-set blocks. My personal favorite (on paper) is the trio of Jim Norton, Michelle Buteau and Brian Posehn, who can be seen late Saturday and Sunday afternoon. 

So head on over to the festival's website, and get that excruciating process of who you will and will not see over with. At least the site offers a customizable schedule option, which means you won't have to look at any program handed out on the first day of the fest and be reminded of the sets you'll have to forego to see your very favorite performances...

Vibes to gather on Connecticut shore

Deadheads and jam music fans from around the east coast will converge on Bridgeport CT July 31 to August 3 for the 13th edition of The Gathering of the Vibes, which returns to Seaside Park for the second consecutive year and fourth time overall. The Bridgeport park includes 370 acres of lawns, glades, fields, a skate park and two miles of Long Island Sound beach front.

The festival's lineage as a gathering of Grateful Dead fans is reflected in the headliner role for Phil Lesh & Friends plus lineup slots for Bill Kreutzmann Trio, Dark Star Orchestra, Donna Jean & The Tricksters, New Riders of the Purple Sage, David Gans and emcee Wavy Gravy—all performers with close association to the original jam band.

Other performers include The Black Crowes, The Neville Brothers, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Soul Stew Revival, Sam Bush, Taj Mahal and lots more.

The festival hosts a "Green Vibes" program featuring a variety of non-profit organizations and charities. Visit the festival website for complete details and ticket information.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

2008 Treasure Island Fest lineup announced

                                   Photo Credit: Static Multimedia

The lineup for the 2nd edition of the Treasure Island Music Festival, slated for September 20-21 in San Francisco, has just been unveiled by organizers APE and Noise Pop. While still following a general format of having a more "exotic" (electronica, worldbeat, hip-hop) collection of artists concentrated on the first day and a more pop/rock scene on the second, the festival has arguably grown in terms of the big-name artists its attracted, with Justice and The Raconteurs headlining.

Other banner names include Tegan & Sara, Vampire Weekend and TV On The Radio. And, of course, this lineup certainly isn't final. To get more info, go to the festival's website.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Outside Lands (Oh Mama!)

By Mike Ruby

As a festival reporter and potential attendee, it's high time I examine the lineup of San Francisco's debut festival, Outside Lands. First off, San Francisco is an amazing place to spend a long weekend. It's the home of the windiest road in the world, it's where some guy lost his heart, and it's where the legendary 49ers play (hey, shut up, they'll go to the Superbowl some day). I can't imagine a better location to hold an event of this caliber than Golden Gate Park, a place which I've visited consistently since I was a baby.
This is the first year that Outside Lands will take place, serving as a Bonnaroo West, of sorts. And wow, what a lineup. For an event that's yet to enter its freshman year, the organizers have sure assembled one hell of a group of artists. I do have one complaint though. Despite the fact that the lineup is great throughout, the organization of acts seems a little skewed. I don't want to say that the lineup gets worse each day, but the headliners get less amazing and the festival doesn't end on as strong of a note as was hoped by many festival-goers.
The first day of the festival looks nothing short of mind-blowing. Although it's only half as long as the two proceeding days, the two headliners compensate. Beck and Radiohead will supposedly be the last two playing on Friday. Radiohead, who will be the first band to ever play Golden Gate Park at night, is one of my favorite bands, and I'm anticipating their performance more than any other act at the festival, probably because I've never seen them live. The same goes for Beck, who is supposed to have a fantastic live performance. In addition, Cold War Kids and The Black Keys are something to look forward to.
Day two is also pretty damn good. But unfortunately, Radiohead and Beck are two acts that, needless to say, would suck to follow. Still, if Primus is as good as they were when I last saw them, that should be a surefire festival highlight. Also, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are always fun, but again, not the right band to perform on the night after Radiohead. I predict that Ben Harper and Devendra Banhart will be memorable. And of course, I wouldn't miss The Coup for the world. I'm also curious to see Steve Winwood and Cafe Tacuba.
Now the third day is the only one with which I have a bit of a problem. Let me just say that if you are a Jack Johnson fan, I don't think any less of you. But come on, that guy in no way deserves the closing slot for the festival. Frankly, I'm tired of all the hype around Jack Johnson. His slew of acoustic diddies that all sound pretty much alike don't have a fraction of the depth of the music of Tom Petty or Radiohead. And yet his mediocrity is being constantly awarded. I'm sorry, I don't get it.
My dislike for Jack Johnson doesn't fully extend to Wilco or Widespread Panic, but I do think both bands are overrated to a point where I'm plain tired of seeing them on festival bills. I'll give them points for talent, but it just seems anticlimactic to have these bands on the last day. The act I'm looking forward to most on Day 3 is Rodrigo y Gabriela. I'm also curious to see Broken Social scene and Ian Neville's Dumstaphunk.
For the record, my complements toward Outside Lands vastly outweigh my criticisms and with a little rearranging, this could be the ultimate festival. Stay tuned for more Ouside lands posts.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Plan ahead for winter cruise season

With the 2008 high festival season about to unfold, it is not too early to be planning your winter 2009 fun. Jam Cruise 7 might be all you need to tide you over. It sails January 4-9, 2009 out of Fort Lauderdale with stops in Belize and Costa Maya, Mexico and a lineup worthy of any big-time summer fest.

The performers include Les Claypool, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Michael Franti, Keller Williams with Moseley, Droll and Sipe, Leftover Salmon, Martin Sexton, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Porter, Batiste & Stoltz, Emmitt-Nershi Band, Bonerama, The Lee Boys, and lots more.

The MSC Orchestra has nearly 800 cabins with ocean view balconies, 13 decks, fitness area, jogging track, restaurants, theatres and shopping, and all the pools, Jacuzzis and baths you might expect on an elegant cruise ship.

Jam Cruise is presented by Cloud 9 Adventures. Bookings open June 4 at the Jam Cruise website.

Monday, May 05, 2008

2008 Coachella Pictures now up!

A little over a week ago, I got the pleasure of checking out the massive Coachella festival. With over 60,000 attendees, 133 bands, and 3 days of wonderful weather and great company, I managed to catch a few great snapshots. Here are a few of my favorites. Check out the full gallery here.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Monterey Music Summit 2008 preview

                                   Photo Credit: Monterey Music Summit
While it isn't exactly there yet quantitatively, this nice multi-genre modern music festival, set to take place in the Laguna Seca County Recreation Area nestled in Salinas, CA, is shaping up to be quite like the Monterey International Pop Festival of 40 years before. I call this a "modern" music festival because, much like Monterey Pop, it's hard to pin down the stylistic center of the festival. Perhaps the biggest name here is Snoop Dogg, but he doesn't really come close to representing this festival. MMS is just in its infancy though; organizers should be praised for the number of major acts they've been able to pull together in just the second year.

Friday, May 30th, bounces from the straightforward hard rock of Juliette & the Licks to the multiphonic chants of the Tibetan Monks to the massive beats of The Crystal Method, to give you some sort of substantial idea of the variety of the first day. It ends with Sound Tribe Sector 9, who seem to be on the road 24/7 in 2008 (with Rothbury and Wakarusa in store for them later this summer). It must be said that STS9 possibly sums up the sounds of the first day the best, what with their equal usage of loud and soft dynamics, loads of drum tracks and filters and live instrumentation, though their sound is still much more akin to the Crystal Method than anything else. Perhaps their headline spot is also the result of the strong local support- they're based in nearby Santa Cruz.

Saturday, the 31st gives us The Crystal Method again, but perhaps settles into a general rock groove more than the previous day. However the day is still spiked by the likes of Filthy Gorgeous Burlesque, which is kind of a global all-star burlesque troupe, the bluegrass fusion band Hot Buttered Rum, and funk-reggae outfit Slightly Stoopid. The motif of pop singer-songwriters at the festival, started with Friday performer Paula Cole, builds with sets by Our Lady Peace frontman Raine Maida and the bookish Sara Melson at the beginning of the day, while perhaps Superdrag, another early performer, would probably also be heavily anticipated by some of those who came to see Juliette & the Licks.

The headliner tonight is Snoop Dogg, and while he's the only hip-hop artist at the festival, Snoop tends to transcend genre and be a master MC for all occasions and venues-- whether you're a fan of the very old ("Gin and Juice") or the very new ("Sexual Eruption"), you probably consider at least one of Snoop's songs a classic, no matter whether you're a big hip-hop fan or not. Thus, the organizers should be heavily commended for reigning him in, even if this means that the festival has to rely on a perhaps excessive number of local up-and-comers to fill out the rest of the days here. And by excessive, I only mean that the festival's financial base could have handled taking on a bit more major out-of-towners like Sunday's Taking Back Sunday and Coheed and Cambria.

Sunday, June 1st is definitely the rockingest of all, though there are some major deviations in the form of Ky-Mani Marley, the proper rapper of Bob's kids, drum'n'bass maestro Dieselboy with MC Messinian, and an Afrobeat collective called Albino! In addition, Filthy Gorgeous Burlesque and the Mystical Arts of Tibet Tour are each back for a second set on Sunday. The day definitely belongs to pounding skins and amp-stack fuzz, starting with South Africa's biggest-selling rock group Just Jinjer and ending with the emo-metal medley of Coheed and Cambria and Taking Back Sunday. In between will no doubt be some sweet long jams courtesy of Tea Leaf Green and New Monsoon.

It's Taking Back Sunday's headlining spot, or Coheed and Cambria's lack of that spot, that has me most intrigued when scanning the lineup for Sunday. Both have released albums more than a year ago (in TBS's case, more than two) that went to the top 10 of the Billboard charts, and both are cooking up albums to be released around the winter of 2008 or 2009-- about the same crowd draw, right? If you want to get nitpicky, TBS's newest, Louder Now, went to number 2 while Coheed went just to number 6, but then again the latter also have the advantage of the newer release. It just makes me wonder if the organizers and both bands just flew out to a conveniently located city, went to the nearby Marriott and flipped a coin to see who would headline on Sunday.

While there may be an abundance of standard rock and pop riffage to be heard in Salinas, that's surely not all there is to expect. And in the nights in between each of the afternoon-and-evening-long journeys through the festival's myriad modern (and Middle-Age in the case of the Tibetan Monks) styles, you can sleep easy knowing that organizers are striving to make the event 100% carbon-neutral through the selling of Nalgene bottles for use at free water dispensers, organic t-shirts, rebates for green vendors, and other strategies.

One-day tickets jump from $49 to $69 on Saturday and Sunday, and buying for the long haul saves you about $12 (depending on shipping charges), at $169. Camping sites are available, but will run you anywhere from $60 to $185 depending on how many people you want to bring along and whether or not you bring an RV. If you're planning on going down to sunny Monterey, then click here, to order tickets.

-- By Ross Moody

Friday, May 02, 2008

Rothbury lineup serves up diverse styles

By Kyle Skutch

The 2008 Rothbury Festival (July 3-6, Rothbury MI) is shaping up as one of the best festival lineups of the summer. It is headed by jam-band fan favorite Dave Matthews Band in one of just two festival appearances this summer (the other is Mile High Music Festival two weeks later near Denver). Playing jazz fusion/rock DMB puts on an unforgettable live show, but the diverse lineup draws from many sub-genres and will appeal to fans with eclectic tastes.

Yes, there is a stacked jam band line up, but don't neglect all the other acts ranging from psychedelic rock to hip-hop to folk to reggae. This is festival that has it all. There are scores of acts worth checking out at Rothbury, both huge name bands and lots of lesser known performers. Let's run through some of the top names after DMB.

Widespread Panic brings 22 years of experience to the stage with lots of jam band power. Deadheads will be sure not to miss Phil Lesh and Friends, bringing back lots of Dead classics with as much energy as ever. The Disco Biscuits are a mix of progressive rock, trance, fusion and aggressive jamming.

The Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Soul Stew Revival brings a combination of southern rock, blues/jazz fusion, and a jam band element. Gov’t Mule offers awesome energy and a tendency toward surprising covers of rock classics. Billboard top 200 regulars 311 defy genre classification.

The indie rock band Modest Mouse will take you through one fantastic live show. Blues-rock duo The Black Keys will bring music from their new album Attack and Release to the stage. Expect electronic rockers Crystal Method to entrance their audience with a mesmerizing live performance. If you are looking for electronica mixed with a jam band sound, don't miss Perpetual Groove and STS9.

For hip-hop, it is hard to do better than mainstreamer Snoop Dogg and his well-known stage antics. Underground hip-hop group Atmosphere puts on an awesome live show that is not be missed. Also in the below-ground scene is Brother Ali, a powerful rapper known for the political messages in his songs. And do not miss Thievery Corporation with its unique and self described "trip-hop/dub" sound.

This kind of something-for-everybody festival risks becoming an incoherent hodgepodge, or it can be a tasty mix of complementary styles that add up to a wide-angle view of the current music scene. My money is on the latter as Rothbury seeks to put its mark on the 2008 festival landscape.

Big Outside Lands developments

Two announcements from organizer Another Planet Entertainment today promise to make the first Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco a bit sweeter:

First of all, the festival just got several more performers to add to its inaugural lineup: Lupe Fiasco, The Black Keys, Jackie Greene, Kaki King, Liars, Nicole Atkins & the Sea and the fantastically-named Culver City Dub Collective.

Second, for those who have been dying to see just the series of either Manu Chao, Beck, and Radiohead, Jack Johnson, Wilco, and Widespread Panic or Primus, Ben Harper, and Tom Petty, single-day tickets are set to be sold on Thursday, May 1st.

Finally, how do we know who's goin' after who? Well, they've released the daily lineup for the festival, that's how.

To claim the single-day or multi-day tickets and see the new and improved lineup go to

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Rothbury reaches new heights in sustainability

By Nick Frazier

Rothbury Festival is still more than two months away but already it is building some major buzz among music fans around the continent who are making plans to trek to western Michigan for the July 3-6 event. Festival organizers at AEG Live and Madison House Presents have assembled a group of musicians as talented as they are diverse, but equally interesting are the event's ambitious plans to break new ground in “green” festival practices—both in the management of the event as well as its content.

These days, lots of festivals are talking the talk about sustainability, but Rothbury seems to be walking the walk as well. Sure the music is the festival’s main attraction, with headlines acts The Dave Mathews Band, Widespread Panic, John Mayer and Snoop Dogg playing late into the night. But the heart and soul of the festival is in its mission to relate a message of environmental conservation to its attendees.

The informational content will be delivered in a Think Tank program of keynotes, panels and workshops on clean energy solutions and climate change. Leading scholars, scientists, youth leaders, writers, entertainers and politicians will participate. Announced participants include curator Stephen H. Schneider, Eban Goodstein, Hunter Lovins and Winona LaDuke

On the green practices side, the festival aims to be a “zero impact” event. In addition to policies on things like recycling and carpooling, special green initiatives include a “green ticket” option that includes a donation to offset carbon emissions made in traveling to the event, donation of solar equipment to local schools, a "green team" volunteer program and personal ashtrays to discourage littering. The organizers have obtained entirely compostible food service utensils, further reducing the gathering’s impact on the planet.

We'll have to see how successful Rothbury's green initiatives prove to be. If a media giant like AEG Live is spending money and effort on such progressive efforts, it may just a matter of time until ecologically conscious festivals become the norm.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Roger Waters Flying Pig found!

On Sunday, April 27 at the Coachella music festival, Roger Waters gave a stunning performance, as well his flying pig. The forty foot helium balloon floated over the crowd with the word 'Obama' painted on the under belly and art on each side. At the close of his set, the pig was set free, but not on purpose.

The pig journeyed only a few miles, to find a new residence with two Indio residents. Unfortunately, the pig popped and all that is left is tattered remains of the nylon balloon. Being as tall as a two story house, and as wide as two school buses, the pig was quite the sight for the Stoltz and Rimmer families.

Both families will split the $10,000 reward that Coachella organizers offered, and they will split the 4 tickets for life to Coachella as well. To see the pigs ending to its journey, watch the video below.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Prince blows away Coachella

Of course the highlight of the weekend was the artist once again known as Prince. Yes, Roger Waters' two-and-a-half hour set of Pink Floyd songs was epic, but Prince came to party. As he hit the stage, he said what was on everyone's minds: “Coachella, I am here!” 60,000 people erupted as he told the crowd he was here to party. And he stepped the weekend up a notch by doing so.

It was not only Prince in this performance of a lifetime, as he brought with him R&B legend Morris Brown and his former drummer, Sheila E. But the main attraction was the headliner's unbelievable music talent. Making his guitar scream and wail, the audience was in awe. We were all in the presence of Prince, not caring if he played ‘Purple Rain’ or ‘Little Red Corvette’ (which he did), because he and his band were exactly the refreshment we needed.

[Photo: Brooklyn Vegan]

If there was one soul highlight that anyone at the show will remember years down the line, it’s when Prince stunned us all by playing Radiohead's “Creep.” Though slightly changing the lyrics to suit the southern California festival, it is possibly the best Creep cover any of us had ever heard. He also covered the Beatles ‘Come Together,’ having the audience help him out and join in song.

He closed his Saturday night a few times. After coming back out for an encore, he continued to play until someone finally said ‘enough.’ We didn’t want him to stop, and he didn’t want to either. “From now on, this is Princes house,” he closed. And we all knew the night was done as he tossed his Fender about 20 feet behind him and paraded off the stage. — Dustin Mitchell

Coachella band highlights

Despite all the extracurricular activities available at my fingertips, I still managed to see more than 30 bands. From the electronic tent, Sahara, to the Coachella main stage, I was up to my ears in great music. Not a single band was a disappointment, and surprisingly, I found many bands I want to see live again.

Instead of trying to summarize the individual shows, I’ll mention some bands that got my attention. Vampire Weekend is the buzz of the ‘indie’ world, and after seeing them live this weekend, the buzz is valid. They sound terrific, they enjoy the music they are playing, and the boys from New York were highly appreciative of the response that Coachella gave them.

Cut Copy was most excellent, as I was expecting DJs and not a full band from the few listens I gave to In Ghost Colours. Even though they played in the middle of the day, the tent was explosive in dancing and crazed fans. The same could also be said about MGMT, which gave a stunning performance with songs off of Oracular Spectacular, closing their set without a band, and just backing tracks.

Not being much of a Portishead fan, I was resigned to see them, but so happy I did. With their new record Third coming out April 29, they tested most of the material from the album out on Coachella, and we loved it. This band is a must-see this summer, or the next time they come to your neighborhood.

Aphex Twin was supposed to be a highlight for the festival, but after 10 minutes of watching him sulk during his set, it was the biggest let down of the festival. I happened to have a few conversations with other Twin fans who had seen him before, and all agreed that this was unusual. Cheer up, Aphex!

Ask anyone who went to Coachella what the best day was, and you will definitely get an argument. For me, the bands and DJs on Friday were superior. Don’t get me wrong, all three days were most excellent, but if you’re going to pin me down to one day, it most certainly was Friday.

(Photos, top to bottom: Vampire Weekend, Death Cab for Cutie, Glen Hansard of The Swell Season)

—Dustin Mitchell

Overstimulated? Go with the flow

When you first walk into Coachella, it sinks in that this is not just a music festival. With interactive art installations throughout the polo grounds, small tents full of new products, games, and the "Do Lab" in the center, this is an experience for all your senses. I would venture to say that nobody went bored for 72 hours. With so much to do besides music, sometimes it was very easy to miss acts you had scheduled in your day.

My advice, if that also happens to you: Go with the flow. Just make sure that you pick out some acts that you’d like to see, and be open to your friends, and the bands that they’d like to catch. With the jaw-dropping display of talent on display on all five stages, you can't help but be pleasantly surprised by much of what you see and hear. — Dustin Mitchell

A most excellent festival weekend

What a morning. Just getting to Coachella has been an adventure in itself. I won't tell the long story of how I almost missed my flight or how the landlord of our Palm Springs rental screwed us at the last minute and then how one of my friends saved the day and found an even better place for the nine of us.

But now, here I am, sliding north on Interstate 15 out of San Diego, listening to my friend Greg's Coachella mix, with "America's Finest City" in the rear view and three days of music mayhem about to unfold.

As we pull up to condo, Greg and I are the first to arrive. We unload our bags, sit down poolside and bust out the lineups and the brews. Others begin to arrive, and the only topic of conversation is this band or that, details about band personnel and repertoire, what we hoped to hear. I am up to my eyes in music homework and loving it.

It was the beginning of a perfect weekend with friends and unbelievable music. True, the two aspects didn't always mix. Contrary to the house hopes, we were never the ones standing in line as Coachella opened its gates at noon.

With nine individuals to coordinate, a pool, and a fridge full of food and alcohol, I'll confess that we didn't make it till 2 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and after a late night card game, not till 4 p.m. on Sunday. — Dustin Mitchell

Monday, April 28, 2008

Major Outside Lands developments

                                    Photo Credit: Guitars Plus
Two announcements given by organizer Another Planet Entertainment today promise to make the first Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco a bit sweeter:

First of all, the festival just got several more performers to add to its inaugural lineup: Lupe Fiasco, The Black Keys, Jackie Greene, Kaki King, Liars, Nicole Atkins & the Sea and the fantastically-named Culver City Dub Collective.

Second, for those who have been dying to see just the series of either Manu Chao, Beck, and Radiohead, Jack Johnson, Wilco, and Widespread Panic or Primus, Ben Harper, and Tom Petty, single-day tickets are set to be sold on Thursday, May 1st.

To claim the single-day or multi-day tickets go to

Snoop Dogg tops 2nd Monterey Music Summit

After its successful debut last year, the Monterey Music Summit is back May 30-June 1 at the beautiful Laguna Seca Recreation Area in Monterey CA. Snoop Dogg heads a lineup designed to bring together an international range of popular music styles, including pop, rock, surf punk, hip hop, folk and world beat. 

Other big names on the bill include Slightly Stoopid, Coheed and Cambria, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Ozomatli, The Crystal Method, Tea Leaf Green and more. 

In addition to its music lineup, the festival offers art and interactive exhibits, green practices and outstanding on-site camping and mountain biking.  

The appearance by Snoop Dogg will be his first appearance of a summer amphitheater tour. The rapper's recently released album "Ego Trippin" has been cited by critics as among his best work. 

The festival is produced by Joe Fletcher Presents, a major promoter in the New England market that has begun promoting events around the U.S. and the world. 

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Let's talk Lolla

By Mike Ruby
After months of agonizing anticipation, the 2008 Lollapalooza lineup was finally announced. And just when you thought festival organizer Perry Farrell couldn't outdo himself, he went above and beyond with what many fans consider to be the most breathtaking lineup to date. I, for one, would support that statement, although having only been to one other year of the festival, it's hard to put one above or below the other.

Now that the list of artists is out in the open, the schedule still remains ambiguous. For those unfamiliar with Lolla's organization of its acts, there's an average of 5 or 6 out of the festival's 9 stages going simultaneously at any given time. This goes on up until the evening, when the first two nights are closed by two bands playing on opposite ends of the park (last year, Friday was closed by Daft Punk and Ben Harper and Saturday closed by Muse and Interpol). This leaves Sunday night as the only time during the festival in which one single band is playing (last year this was Pearl Jam). So that raises the critical question: Who will close this year's festival? Who will get the longest slot of the weekend, with no other bands to take their audience away?

Let's review. We have Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Kanye West, and Nine Inch Nails as the four "main attractions" of the event. It's almost positive that the closing slot will not be given to Radiohead (a disappointment to me and many others) simply because they have a show scheduled in Indiana during the last night of the festival.

So now we have Rage, NIN, and Kanye left to duke it out for the dream slot. I predict that Nine Inch Nails, another band I hold near and dear to me, won't be closing because they got bumped down to fourth on the lineup list, behind the fantastic Mr. Kanye West. I in no way denounce Kanye's talent and popularity within the music scene. In fact, I congratulate him for it. However, it would simply not be appropriate for him to headline Lollapalooza. It's a rock festival, and he is just not deserving of the longest set of the weekend.

I have my fingers crossed that the integrity of Lollapalooza is preserved and that a more worthy act closes the festival. I'm sure that many of you would agree with me when I say that what the world needs right now is Rage Against the Machine. If Radiohead isn't going to close, then Rage is the next best candidate. They're my generation's Bob Dylan, and I couldn't be more pleased that they're playing.

Anyway, there will be more to come on that topic. For now, lets take a quick look at the rest of the lineup. There are more bands playing than I can wrap my head around. For starters, Lollapalooza will feature festival regulars like G. Love & Special Sauce and Love & Rockets. With the recent release of their second album, there's no doubt in my mind that The Raconteurs will be fantastic. There are plenty of "catch up" bands, established acts like Wilco and The Black Keys I haven't yet seen live.

All the bases are covered. There are all the up-and-coming indie bands such as MGMT, Minus the Bear, and Rogue Wave. For soft, folky rock, there is John Bulter Trio and Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks. R&B fans will get, besides Kanye, Lupe Fiasco and Gnarls Barkely. With the soaring popularity of band member Leslie Fiest's solo career, I'm sure that Broken Social Scene will have quite an audience, as will Explosions in the Sky and Bloc Party. Other notable acts include Gogol Bordello, Girl Talk, The National, and the great Perry Farrell himself.

Then there are the large number of bands that I have to admit I'm not familiar with. Like lots of rock fans, I have a tendency to be cocky about my wealth of musical knowledge, so I give credit to Farrell and the rest of the Lolla organizers for putting us in our place. Kudos, Lollapalooza, and may this be the best one yet.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Video: Steampunk Treehouse goes to Coachella

It was one of the big attractions at Burning Man 2007, the Steampunk Treehouse, a massive art installation of welded iron and fanciful filigree, created by a team of techno-artists and erected on the otherworldly Playa at the free-form happening. Now the crew behind the project is getting ready for an encore in front of a much larger, more mainstream audience at Coachella 2008. Festival Preview presents....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Coast-to-coast party on first big weekend of 2008

After all the buildup and early-season preliminaries, the unofficial opening weekend of the 2008 outdoor festival season is finally here. Among New Orleans Jazzfest and Festival International in Louisiana, Coachella in southern California, MerleFest in North Carolina and McDowell Mountain in Scottsdale AZ, all running this weekend in a coast-to-coast arc across the southern United States, happy festival-goers are going to be shaking off their winter blues at their first musical blowout of 2008.

The biggest of the big is New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which runs seven days over the next two weekends with a panoply of big name attractions and overwhelming number of side-stage acts. Meanwhile the rock mecca for the week is Empire Polo Club in Indio CA, when legions of fans from across the western U.S. will converge for a first look at the big rock acts playing on this summer's expanded circuit. MerleFest is probably the single-most important event of the year in the Americana category, with roots music aficionados from around the world now arriving in picturesque Wilkesboro NC for the Thursday opening.

Our other two picks for the weekend are Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette LA, for one of the best world-music events going, this one focused on music from international French-speaking cultures. McDowell Mountain gets a mention for its nifty blues-rock lineup and sublime Arizona springtime climate.

So how is the weather shaping up at the key festival locations? Louisiana and North Carolina are both looking at scattered thundershowers. In Indio and Scottsdale, there is nothing but sun—highs at Coachella will be 100° F, McDowell a touch cooler.

Whatever the weather brings, faces will be smiling and toes will be tapping as hundreds of thousands of festival attendees enjoy their first fix of 2008. Let the party begin.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Coachella, day 3 preview

Whew. These posts have occupied most of my weekend, but listening to all this music has got me entirely juiced for Californias favorite festival. (Well, this might be debatable with SF Outside Lands first year lineup.) So, without further ado, I bring you our closing day.

If I left out your favorite band, I apologize. There are so many acts to see at Coachella, regardless of who you see, it's going to be spectacular. These lists are just compiled from all the data I have, and I put them up here so your experience can be diverse, and you can get to know great music. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. Click pictures for music previews.

Brett Dennen - As I write this post, I am actually missing Mr. Dennen at a free show in Golden Gate park. Since his release of 'So Much More,' Dennen has been on tour non-stop. He lives out of a suitcase and calls every hotel room that he visits home. His noise is reggae, rock, acoustic, and full of passion. If you've yet to be introduced to Dennen, this is your chance. He leads Sunday off with a bang.

Grand Ole Party - Being a once San Diegan, it's nice that we have someone representin SoCal in this festival. I actually saw Grand Ole Party bring in my 2007, and from what I remember, they were quite impressive. Lead singer/drummer Kristin Gundred brings Janis back to life, while beating the crap out of her drums. It's unusual to see a drummer that's a girl, much less one that does all the singing. And it is GOOD.

Duffy - Yes, she does sound like Amy Winehouse. Yes, she is also English, and yes, she is WAY hotter than Rehab Winehouse. Any existing Duffy fan will tell you that Duffy has been conjuring the 60's Motown sounds long before Amy was even dreaming of telling rehabilitation centers no, no, and no. I'm sure there are some better musical acts around, but I want some eye candy.

Annuals - Ambient, Rock, Alternative, Pop, Emo. The studio albums that Annuals have put out are layered with ambient noises and sounds, and I really have to understand how they do this live. I once saw Grandaddy try to pull this off, very poorly I might add. Rumor has it they're a gnarly live show, and bring the rawk back to energy levels that of U2. Finally, someone to slap Bono off his high horse? We could only hope.

Sia - If you went into any Starbucks in the world, you saw this album placed in front of your friendly barista for weeks. I, like the sucker I can be, finally broke down and see what all the fuss was about. With her previous single Breathe all over the radio, I believed that her new disc and witty title would be a breath of fresh air. It was, and not I believe that Aussies know how to be heartfelt and honest.

Stars - Canadian indie pop band that highly resembles LA's Shiny Toy Guns. Like the Guns, you get male and female vocals fused with some screaming guitars and synthesizers. I like them because of their ambient vibe, and I believe that all bands will be competing for our attention. With a revival in good Canadian music, this is a great place to start. Catchy enough to keep you intrigued, but not so much that you'll hear them on your local radio station. (unless that station kicks ass)

Simian Mobile Disco - Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend SXSW this year, but I had a friend from Itunes that was. She raved about Cut Copy (performing friday) and continued her rants about SMD. Once again, there will be dancing. It looks like they're slotted for a later spot, so, we might see glow sticks as well. If you've yet to disco, start by yourself, in your room, with 'Hustler.' Then share it with your friends, where you can all disco together.

Gogol Bordello - A self explanatory name for this band, as they bring the gypsy cabaret to your ears. They're previous record is called Gypsy punk, and that's exactly what it is. If Flogging Molly were to include bull fighting violins, mandolins, and bar-mitzvah accordions, they would be Gogol Bordello. Sure to include ridiculous costumes and exceptional crowd interaction, this is one act that shouldn't be missed at Coachella.

Perry Farrell- I laughed out loud, I really did. This former front man for Janes Addiction, I can only assume, will come out in silver leather pants, with some short of half shirt on. His voice is undeniable, and he's known for his eccentric live performances. Though we could all wish that he was with Navarro and friends for an Addiction reunion, the case is not so. I'm just surprised Farrell, the brains behind the Lollapalooza festivals is performing with a competitor.

Roger Waters - I can hear it now. "Play 'Another Brick in the Wall'!" "Comfortably Numb!" As Waters is recluse, not playing many shows over the past few years, we can only hold our breaths when it comes to seeing him. Pink Floyd was known for their unique production on their albums, along with an incredible light/multimedia show to match their shows. I hope Waters brings the same.

Okay, I made it. It took a lot of research, but I really enjoyed writing all of this for you. If you liked the posts, be sure to subscribe to Festival Preview, as we review upcoming music festivals, and associated news.

Coachella, day 2 preview

Well, we made it through day 1, hopefully without a bump in the road. I have to apologize though. As I read and re-read the lineup, I left out some great artists, one of those being ‘The Swell Season.’ Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, riding off the success of their movie Once is an Irish/Czech singer/songwriter duo you’ll have to also check out. I’m hoping they don’t place them so late in the evening, but I guess we’ll have to see when they release all the full details. Like last time, click on the pictures to be directed to the music.

The Bird and the Bee - Electric Pianos. Soothing synths. Friday was probably unbearably hot, so we’ll all be a bit sunburned, dehydrated and tired. Thankfully, we’ve made it back for a 2nd day to check out the sultry vocals of Inara George, and genius musician/producer Greg Kurstin. If you’ve yet to hear tracks of this duo, make sure you load up with “F*cking Boyfriend” before you pass go, or collect $200.

dredgDredg - Post progressive rockers out of Los Altos, California, they’ll tap your foot for you. Actually, you won’t even need them to cause you won’t be able to help yourself. Seriously, you probably remember their radio single ‘Bug Eyes,’ from back in 2006. I’m a big fan of theirs, even if they never made it past their big break. I’m excited to see what they come up with here, as they aren’t slated for a new album (to the best of my research)

Minus the Bear - Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse. It’s just one of their song titles (as all of them are equally amusing), but I’d say that it’s a good summary of what you get from MtB. Seattles indie experimental boys are good for some swaying, and even some hard-on dancing at points. Leave your lighter fluid full for other upcoming
Saturday acts.

MGMT - Coachella did a great job this year of finding some indie electronic acts that the common fan will rock. With the additions of Cut Copy, Simian Mobile Disco and MGMT, you won’t be completely furious that Daft Punk wasn’t on the lineup. Their latest release Oracular Spectacular has lived in my car for a few weeks, and I don’t think it’ll be leaving anytime soon. (then again - the Kooks new ‘Konk’ is pretty darn good)

akron/familyAkron/Family - Wanna see something you’ve never seen before? Akron is sure to be your best bet this weekend. Every show is full of improvisation, and all members are accomplished musicians. They’re sure to trade instruments, vocal leading parts, and who knows what else. I don’t suggest you spend the whole set with them, as if they offer anything to similar to their albums, it’s gonna be monotonous, slow, and depressing. (Who wants THAT at a festival?)

Dwight Yoakam - I just couldn’t help myself. I really couldn’t. As I am not a country fan, I make it a personal goal to see everyone just once in my life. Like, if Garth Brooks were in this spot, I would probably go, just to see who else went, and that sort of thing. Who knows what Dwight has in store for a festival where he has almost no fans. I just have to go and see.

Kate Nash - Well, isn’t England throwing out some nifty artists lately? Adele and Kate Nash I could easily group together, and this choice is a personal preference. She’s totally cute, and writes cute songs about me. I only take “cute” in small doses, so this is enough cute for 3 days. Wait, Duffy is on Sunday, but she’s more HOT that cute. Her songs are catchy pop numbers, but has been known to rock on occasion. I’ll guess we’ll she what she’s offering soon.

Kraftwerk - I was really planning on sporting the flip-flops for Coachella. I really was. But now that Kraftwerk has been added with their funky beats, I don’t know if I can. It seems that a substantial amount of dancing is in store for all of us. These guys have been around for years, and were making beats long before the Beasties were gleams in Jewish fathers eyes. No one really “sings” Kraftwerk songs, so you can save your voice. :)

Portishead - Trip-hop group that FINALLY came back. 10 years since they’ve really done anything on the scene, and it’s about time they did. With their 2008 release Third, the late night act is sure to mellow you out and give you a breather right before the ‘next guy.’ It’s been two days in the hot sun, and you need some spacey time. If you plan on abusing substances, this is your opportunity. Oh, and it’s time to break out that lighter you’ve been dying to throw up in the air and sway.

Prince - Yes. Prince. The artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince. Party like it’s 1999. Or 2008, and you’ve completed the 2nd day of Coachella.