Photography By: Regina Nicolardi | Ambassador of Photography | Pennsylvania | Beat-Play and Music Without Labels, LLC
Edgy, yet inviting. Unique, yet very familiar. Varying influences from each member of So-Cal quartet, The Futures League, clash together for something new, yet also nostalgic. Made up of Jon Arman, Jack Rose, Scott Ruth, and John Fontana, the 4 came together only 2 short years ago and have already played at some of the biggest shows in the country. I got to have a quick chat with the band before their set at the 10th annual Switchfoot Bro-Am at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas.
From SXSW and Bonnaroo, to a stage at the ASP Quiksilver Pro in France, the boys have, in their incredibly short time as a band, played stages and concerts that many can only dream of. The novelty is still pretty overwhelming for young band. “I think its insane to be on a bill with some people. Especially for Bonnaroo.” John describes, “We were on a bill with Elton John. We’re like ‘Why are we here? This is insane.’ Playings great, but being there and experiencing it for me was like the coolest thing.”
The stage was crowded with people who had been baking in the So-Cal heat. As the band began, people perked up out of their sun induced euphoria. I could hear a bit of chatter from nearby. “I dig this,” someone muttered to their friend. The band has a natural talent, and the bells and whistles that many bands take with them, are completely absent. Describing their own music the band agrees with the general consensus of ‘60’s psychedelics and garage rock’ but also add, “But modernized. Its fun music. Its fun rock n roll music. Some of the stuff is more garagey some is more punky. We couldnt say its punk because we have some more different stuff. “
Call it punk, or garage, or whatever, the band is able to form their influences into a nice package without being kitsch. Even a punked out, guitar driven cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya,” didn’t feel like a stretch. In fact, many people danced and sang along.
Catchy lyrics, heavy thumping bass, and dexterous solos may not seem like something too different, but when it’s wrapped in approach taken by The Future’s League, you’ll see why these guys are bringing influences from the past into the future.
From southwest Philly to Bellmawr, New Jersey, emcees Bey and Davon have linked up for a guaranteed summer jam. While Bey’s Shaking Hands and Kissing Babies tape doesn’t drop until next week, fans of feel-good summer vibes in city and suburbs alike can wear out the replay button on this clip for lead single “Where I’m From” for non-stop daytime disco riffs and positive lyrics. After the sing-along sampled/sung hook, Bey launches into his first verse, laying out the harsh realities of life in Southwest before ending on lyrics about and shots of a block party, emphasizing the blended pleasure and pain of life in the hood, just as the gunshots and sirens imply in the beat. The kids in the video and their innocent enjoyment of it all really brings out the poignancy of the childhood memories the rapper is referencing. The second verse, complete with cheesesteak order and the locally ubiquitous wu-tang dance, juxtaposed with shots of City Hall and the neighborhood elementary school, makes sure to thoroughly establish Bey’s background before heading to the both literally and figuratively greener pastures Davon calls home. He has no delusions about his advantages, laying them out and taking his peers to task for throwing it all away, encouraging people everywhere to pursue their dreams just as Bey did in the preceding verses. Despite some heavy subject matter, the breezy beat, bright color scheme, and pervasive smiles keep the mood light, authentically conveying the warmth and enthusiasm of both up-and-coming artists. Director Same DNA should be getting a lot more calls after this one.
By Dave Fox | Philadelphia Ambassador | @philosofoxthedj | Beat-Play and Music Without Labels, LLC
Until the middle of August, the Mayhem festival will be touring around the country, bringing some of the biggest names in metal to a single place for a day of hardcore, headbanging…and well… mayhem. The first stop was the San Manuel Amphitheatre in San Bernadino, CA, where temperatures soared to near triple digits. The venue consisted of the main stage and 3 smaller stages set up in close proximity. Between these two locations were a slew of vendors, lined up with giveaways, raffles, and gear for purchase. Under a large tent, with the best view of the three stages, patrons could get free Rockstar Energy Drinks (The festival’s main sponsor) of varying flavors. In a gated off area, people got to enjoy watching motorcyclists launch through the air performing an array of dangerous, yet exciting stunts.
For this non metal head, much of the music wasn’t too distinct from the next band, however, it were the performances that made the day. While I was unable to see everyone (water and shade was a necessity) many of the artists I did catch were high energy, long haired and incredibly talented.
Veil of Maya was the first band I saw, and paved the way for what to expect throughout the day. Singer Brandon Butler bounced around the stage with a look of elation that made it seem that he would rather be no where else. After the set, Texas Hippie Coalition took to the neighboring stage. This quartet from Denison epitomize what the phrase “Everything is bigger in Texas,” whether it be vocalist’s “Big Dad Ritch’s” extra large stature or just the overall stage presence and command of attention these guys have.
One of my favorite performances came half way through the day with Upon a Burning Body. With most of the members donning their signature suits, they still managed a nonstop performance in the blistering heat. At the beginning of their set, singer Danny Leal dares members of the audience to come give him a high five, a challenge many of which were eager to accept. What happened next, excited and terrified me. A wave of people, much more than security could handle, crowd surfed to the front, avoiding photographers and guards at the rail in attempts to give Leal a high five. (I saw only one touch the hand of the singer).
As the day turned to evening, the crowd migrated to the main stage for the remaining 4 artists who top the festival’s bill. Trivium and Asking Alexandria were both first up. Both displayed incredible energy and used the stage to its maximum. Matt Heafy, when not bound by to the mic by singing would find his way from one side of the stage to the other. Asking Alexandria, had a bit more stage to work with, as there were two platforms each decorated with a large “A.” At this point, there were no real lights that the bands could work with, however, it didn’t at all matter as both pumped up the crowd for the rest of the night.
Maybe too much in fact.
After Asking Alexandria, as the stage was being set up for the next artist, a firework exploded out on the far lawn, in the middle of a crowd. From what I could gather, no one was hurt, but it did create a small fire that seem to burn into the night. No one seemed worried (despite being in a drought affected fire haven), in fact, it looks as if people were moshing around the billowing smoke pillar that lasted for what seemed like an eternity. Despite the flames, Korn took the stage. Legends in their own right, the Grammy Award winning band performed to a crowd of 27,000 screaming fans, through use of a brilliant light show head banging and iconic songs sung through the equally iconic H.R. Giger- designed microphone stand.
Lastly, the bill topping Avenged Sevenfold (A7X for short) opened the main stage curtains and pulled the audience into what I could only describe as “Hell: The Musical.” Large screens from the ceiling to the top of a staircase that descends to the main stage. The staircase and statues billow fire, making it the craziest production I had ever seen for a concert. The heat of the stage brought the already hot night to a boil and A7X performed through it as if it was a cake walk. The screens portrayed skeletons coming out onto the stage before switching to live feed of the band for those not fortunate enough to be close. Like other before, the band played the stage well, managing to get from one end to another without missing a beat, soloed together (with a humorous display of bunny ears by a fellow band mate) and interacted with the audience just enough to keep the connection alive.
The entire day was miserably hot and with music I didn’t know, but it was honestly an incredibly fun day with musicians and music lovers in an environment where they can just let loose. Rockstar and Mayhem Fest have both really outdone themselves, and I can’t wait to see how they will top it next year.
The Nearly Deads CD Release Party at Exit/In, Nashville, TN
Considered by MTV as one of the “most critically overlooked bands,” Night Riots are making their ways onto many people’s radar. I got to chat with vocalist Travis Hawley and guitarist Nick Fotinakes about touring, their latest music video and what the future holds for the Central California boys.
Night Riots have had an incredibly busy year, and their hard work is paying off. With a set on SXSW, a show opening for Saosin at the Fox Theatre, and a new music video on MTV, it seems the guys are picking up fans with every move they make. However, anyone who has glanced at their Facebook page could tell that they seem to always be on the move, stopping only briefly at their home town of Templeton, before they hit the road again. While it could be emotionally and physically draining for many, the guys seem to feel differently.
“For me at least when we go home its always a bit more awkward, cuz we have to reintegrate into home life,” Hawley explains. Fontinakes adds, “Alot of us are like that. We tend to prefer to be on the road.”
As their tours go on, Night Riots is getting the opportunity to play bigger shows at bigger venues, and even taking residency at LA’s Hemingways for the month of August. I asked if the band catered their shows differently to these larger events as opposed to the smaller venues. Fotinakes explains, “Sometimes. Not really in the sense that we’ll play completely different stuff. In a case like that (Saosin show) where they may not know us as well, we have a bit more room to be creative. You know if you’re playing to people that you know, you kind of have to play some songs that they would recognize or fan favorites but with that we have the freedom to play newer stuff and experiment with songs that we haven’t really played that much. Its fun to throw that into shows.”
Night Riots’ newest music video for “Back to Your Love,” was released recently and has even gotten attention by MTV. Set in San Bernadino’s Carosel Mall, the video features Hawley roaming through the empty halls and dancing a Mia Wallace mannequin that eventualy springs to life. Fun, and beautifully shot, Hawley describes it as a “snapshot of a time and a place.” He adds, “For us when it comes to making videos, we would rather have it be no beginning and no end. No resolution.”
Night Riots’ summer tour brought them for the first time to the main stage of the House of Blues as the supporting band for Wild Cub. It was great to finally see the band on a stage more their size, as the guys weren’t too crowded and Travis had room to move around. While a good majority of the people in attendance there to see Wild Cub (who would later be bobbing their heads to the music), there were still a good number of people I saw sporting their shirts and making the way to the front as soon as the band opened. With only a quick 7 or 8 song set, the band opened the night with “Remedy,” off of their Young Lore EP. Throughout the set, the band went back to their days as PK, much to the appeal of their long time fans. Near the end of the set, the band played a stripped down version of “Spiders” and ended with PK single and fan favorite, “Berelain.”
The boys continue to tour up and down the west coast, but that doesn’t mean no new music. In fact, Hawley mentioned that Night Riots are close to finishing another EP which they are hoping to release by October. Between playing shows, the boys make their way to LA for some recording and have to juggle their time accordingly to fit all the demands. If you havent had a listen to their EP, Young Lore, check it out now and catch Night Riots on their never ending tour.
And for those on the east coast, the boys haven’t forgot about you. When it comes to a tour, Fotinakes mentions that “Everything’s up in the air but hopefully we’ll get to the east coast too. Wed love to if we can make it happen.”
Even before the show began, it was clear that the cult following that new wave rockers, DEVO, have gained through the years. Some were sporting the energy dome hats that were made famous in 1980, some proudly wore their own radiation suits, and one person that I saw had even brought their own DEVO toys.
DEVO formed back in the early 70s in Ohio and rose to fame in 1980 with their hit, “Whip It,” maintaining their cult following from then on. Made up of brothers Bob and Mark Mothersbaugh, Gerard Casale, and Josh Freese, DEVO’s music became highly influential to modern day pop music, and each of the members have offered their talents to others as score composers, session musicians, and video directors. In 2010, the band released their newest album in 10 years, Something for Everybody, which, despite the band’s hiatus, ranked well on the Billboard charts. Their current tour, Hard Core DEVO, brought the band to Solana Beach’s Belly Up Tavern on Monday night for a show for the ages.
The opening setup seemed like the show would play out more as an acoustic set, as everyone but Mark took a seat at their respective places on stage. A wall placed behind them, with dim lights shining through three windows, Mark opened a 50 year old newspaper at his keyboard before proceeding to rain several packs of cigarettes upon the audience. The band got off to a great start with the audience, opening with a crowd favorite “Mechanical Man.” Despite the casual setting, the audience was more than keen to sing along with the utmost enthusiasm.
Playing through what began as a fairly relaxed set, the band eventually stepped away from their stools and got changed into a more familiar look, their radiation jumpsuits. Where I thought that the band had retired to playing low energy shows, I was proven wrong. The wall panels were moved into a new position, and the light show began. DEVO’s energy took a 180, as throughout the rest of the night they shed any visible signs of their age and danced around the stage with the same fervor as they had years ago.
At one point, the band left the stage. Seconds later, Booji Boy, a creation of the band consisting of Mark dressed in a somewhat creepy child’s mask, emerged from backstage to perform “U Got Me Bugged.” Afterwards, the band invited the son of the late Bob Casale (who had died earlier this year) to perform for the rest of the show.
Throughout the night, the band took time to talk to the audience about their rise to fame, often with deadpan humour. They took their blast to the past so far as to wear skin tight masks of themselves from their younger years. Their songs would purposefully slip into discordance while just as quickly slip back to an incredible display of musical bravato. Their shows pull far from the typical concert, mixing their humour and wit, with kitsch and often low brow theatrics. The blending of the two works well in a concert setting, providing DEVO fans, and new comers alike a show that is hard to forget.