Austin City Limits: Weekend One Highlights

Austin City Limits saw the return of Radiohead on Friday night during weekend one of the two weekend fest. While perfect weather adorned the record crowds it was the awesome array of musical acts that stole the show.

Friday's Best:

Radiohead: They managed to reach into their catalog for one of their best festival sets this year. (expecting a possible better set this weekend, after all it is Them Yorke's birthday)

Flying Lotus: Perfect primer for Radiohead, he managed to get the crowd nice and comfy for the evenings headliner. Lotus continues to push boundaries with his awesome sets, would have preferred a later set to emphasize his amazing visuals.

Die Antwoord: The South American rap duo amazed and probably played one of the best sets Friday mid afternoon. The band was all over the place singing and dancing with a huge crowd participation.

Band of Horses: Sandwiched between Flume and M83, the Seattle rockers held their own with a emphatic set of southern rock. We got a chance to see an ACL Live tapping Sunday night which was amazing.

Saturday's Best:

Saint Motel: This band continues to grow and grow right in front of our eyes. Their Saturday performance is a testament to that. Can't wait to see what they bring on weekend two.

Cage The Elephant: You never know what to expect from these guys, one thing is for certain they leave it all on the line. Singer Matt Schultz is a modern day version of Freddy Mercury mixed in with a hint of Mick Jagger.

SchoolBoy Q: Fresh off a new album Schoolboy gave the crowd a rather energetic set setting it up perfectly for label mate Kendrick Lamar. Playing a majority of new songs it's no wonder his latest album has been met with praise.

The Chainsmokers: They definitely packed the Home Away stage unlike we have ever seen. This years version of Twenty One pilots has made a name for itself with it's live shows incorporating great visuals and musical theatrics. 

Kendrick Lamar: King Kendrick played a flawless set proving why he belongs headliner status. His no holds barred approach to hip hop has put him in the upper echelon of the genre, in fact he may be leading us into the next era of hip hop and rap.

Sunday's Best:

The final day of weekend one heavily featured some of country music's best. 

Nathaniel Ratliff & The Night Sweats: Denver's own held their status as one of the most surprising acts of the year. Their mid-day crowded performance had everybody singing and dancing to the retro soul sounds off the band. Great to see reactions for these guys outside of Denver.

Kacey Musgraves: The country starlett gave us a dose of her country antics reaching into a few of the covers she has been known to rock including "Crazy" from Gnarls Barkley and Nancy Sinatra's “These Boots Are Made For Walkin".

Oh Wonder: Probably the most surprising set for me. I literally fell in love with this duo, who proclaimed it was their first time playing in our great state. One of the better up and coming bands we suggest you take a listen.

HAIM: The threesome are back after a brief break following there amazing debut album. These three sisters always put on for an amazing show. They showcased a bit more maturity and amazing sound since we saw them last in Denver almost two years ago.

LCD Soundsystem: After witnessing a jaw dropping legendary performance at Red Rocks earlier this year, they managed to continue their fever pace as their festival circuit is coming to an end. Same setup and same songs James Murphy and company will be heading to the studio soon to work on their new album. We cannot wait.

Bay Area Showcase by Balanced Breakfast at UMS

In SXSW fashion day parties have become a staple amongst The Underground Music Showcase the last couple years. It has become a great outlet for bands from out of town to come in and establish a Denver presence. This year we have delegations from Treefort Music, CU Denver, Spokezbuzz and the Bay Area Showcase. We had a chance to talk to Joe Markert, lead vocalist for Cure For Gravity who will be playing for us on Sunday at Skylark.

(U5280) How did you come across this festival?

 (Joe) This is our third year coming out to UMS. Four years ago we played a show in San Francisco with The Epilogues and made a connection. We were chatting them up about coming out to play in Denver when their drummer, Jason Hoke, invited us out to hit UMS. We loved the vibe of the festival  - it was all about the music with a whole lot less corporate music influence.  Not to mention it’s in Denver and we love it up here.  I (Joe Markert) have family up outside Boulder so this is quickly becoming a second home for myself and the band.

(U5280) Do all of the bands on this bill know each other pretty well and have you guys ever collaborated on any projects in the past?

Most of the bands know each other through Balanced Breakast (http://www.blncdbrkfst.com/ ) a Music Industry Meet-up started in San Francisco by Stefan Aronsen, Andy Freeman and others.  Balanced Breakfast has helpd forge a good deal of community so we’ve all gotten to know each other pretty well and support each others shows.  Denver also has a Balanced Breakfast chapter, as well as is a sister city to the Grammy Recording Academy chatper back home in San Francisco so we wanted to forge a connection.

We hope this will be the first of many years we bring the day party out and will forge collaborations not only among our SF showcasw bands but with Colorado based musicians as well.  We’re hoping to help Kendall Smith bring a UMS stage to NoisePop in SF back home next year and hopefully drive an SF stage to TreeFort the way Kendall has done with UMS.

(U5280) Five bands will be joining The UMS festival this year, are their similar festivals of this scale in the bay area?

NoisePop (http://noisepop.com/) is our UMS back home!  As I mentioned above we’re hoping to get some reciprocation going on bringing a UMS stage to NoisePop this coming year.

(U5280) This festival continues to grow each year, what do you see from an artist perspective as challenges to play festivals as compared to regular touring?

Festivals definitely present a whole new set of challenges in terms of logistics and organization required of the artists.  Showing up to a club and playing a set is pretty straight forward.  Hitting a festival or showcase event like UMS requires an entirely different level of planning and preparation to ensure you can get yoru gear into and out of a location as quickly as possible so as not to blow the event schedule. If you weren’t organized with your stage show before playing a festival, you’ll learn quick!

But festivals and showcases are a much better opportunity than normal club tours as you can get many more eyeballs on your project in one fell swoop than you can hoping for a good turn out at a local club on a Wednesday night.

(U5280) Describe three things about Denver?

The Rockies, Stranahans. Great Music.  Denver has been super welcoming to us and we hear this time and again from our fellow Denver converts.   Or, as our guitarist, Dave Walcott, put it, “Hot, High and Hail.”  I’ll leave discerning that one to your readers.

(U5280) Are there any bands on the bill you guys are looking forward to seeing?

We were super stoked to see The Epilogues as it’s a bittersweet this time around being one of their last shows ever.  Definitely into Slow Caves, The Oh Sees and Polica!

(U5280) Finally where is the music industry heading today? In terms of touring, streaming music, live shows, labels and industry?

That’s a question I’m not sure any one of us can succinctly answer or intuit.  I can say that I think with the tools we all have now to get our music created and out there for consumption, as well as the expansion of groups like Balanced Breakfast it’s getting easier for dedicated artists to forge a living off of their art.

Be sure to check out the Bay Area Showcase this Sunday at Skylark Lounge. Get familiar with some of the bands visiting our fair city.*

Unlikely Heroes: 12:00-12:40 PM (Skylark Lounge)

DREA.M: 1:00-1:40 PM (Skylark Lounge)

D. Edward: 2:00-2:40 PM (Skylark Lounge)

Cure For Gravity: 3:00-3:40 PM (Skylark Lounge)

Beautiful Machines: 4:00-4:40 PM (Skylark Lounge)

Jon Boland: 5:00-5:40 PM (Skylark Lounge)

Hang Rounders: 6:00-6:40 PM (Skylark Lounge)

*Aside from the Bay Area Showcase each band is also playing a different set throughout the festival.

Catching Up with UMS Artist Allah-Las

Photo Credit: Laura-Lynn Petrick

Kicking off our series of UMS Artist Spotlight, we had a chance to catch up with the members of Allah-Las this week in preparation for their performance on Friday night on the main stage during this years Underground Music Showcase. 

(U5280) You guys are about to drop a new album on September 9th. What will be different about this album than previous releases in terms of writing process, touring, songs, etc?

(Allah-Las) Almost all of the songs on the record were written individually, as opposed to collectively as many of the tracks from the second and almost all of the tracks from the first record were written. We also spent a lot of time demoing and experimenting with production on this record, and it shows in the variety of the tracks.

(U5280) A few of you used to work together at Amoeba Music, what was that like, I can picture a scene from High Fidelity. Any weird stories you want to share from working there? (encounters, sightings, perks, etc)

(Allah-Las) Lots of strange folks working there, lots of strange Hollywood burnouts making regular rounds.  Also a great record shop.

(U5280) You guys have worked with Nick Waterhouse in the past, what is he like?

(Allah-Las) Nick is a good friend of ours and we knew him before any of us had our music projects going. He's a great guy to work with, very knowledgeable and professional, and also a contemporary of ours who we feel comfortable with in the studio. 

(U5280) You guys are about to embark on a fall tour starting here in the states then concluding in Europe, any memorable touring stories you want to share?

(Allah-Las) Too many. There was the time in Texas where we left Matt on the side of the road because we didn't realize he had climbed out the back of the van when we stopped for a pee break. Took us about half an hour to realize. He didn't have a phone or wallet with him, so it was good that we noticed eventually. One time in Germany we were escorted out of our hotel by police at 3am and ended up making friends with them, gave them records and all that. They were much cooler than the kid at the front desk who had called them.  

(U5280) What can your fans of Denver expect this coming Friday at The UMS?

(Allah-Las)We rented that Tommy Lee rig that flips around so we're gonna have Matt up on that, massive pyrotechnics show, people flying around suspended by wires, we borrowed some tigers from the local zoo.  Gonna be wild wild wild.

(U5280) Finally if you guys had to put together a super band (past or present) 1 vocalist, 1 guitarist, 1 bass player and 1 drummer, who would it be?

(Allah-Las) What? We already did. 

Allah-Las is composed of Pedrum Siadatian (vocals/lead guitar), Miles Michaud (vocals/rhythm guitar), Matthew Correia (vocals/drum), and Spencer Dunham (vocals/bass). The band was formed in 2008 while three of the members were working at the legendary Amoeba Music record store. “We were all music fans before we were musicians,” says Correia. “We’ve spent a lot of time listening to music, and understanding what works for us and what doesn’t.” Their 2011 self-titled debut was nominated for independent album of the year by the A2IM Libbys. Of the debut, Pitchfork said, “it sounds like an effortlessly wistful batch of starry-eyed, minor-key beauties that gently ruminate on the usual young-guy subjects: sex, freedom, the ways the former can interfere with the latter and vice versa.”

In 2014, their sophomore LP Worship The Sun received critical acclaim from The Los Angeles Times who said the album “…lets the band’s trippy vintage rock absorb all sorts of new Southern California influences. Latin drumming, L.A.’s midcentury avant-garde beach culture and Laurel Canyon harmonies.” LA Weekly has noted, “their sound is steeped in the pop sensibilities of The Zombies and The Kinks, laced with Northern Soul, lo-fi funk and the ever-enduring influence of Arthur Lee and Love.” 

The band has toured extensively with sold out tours and high profile festival dates throughout North, Central, and South America, Europe, South Africa, Russia, Mexico and Israel. For the upcoming North American dates will have the group TOPS supporting in September and October. See below for full tour dates. 

Music | Austin City Limits: Bands To See and More | October 9-11 | Austin, Texas

Here we are about to embark on our fifth Austin City Limits Music Festival, this weekend in our favorite sister city Austin, Texas. This makes for one of our favorite trips of our festival coverage every year and it's also a homecoming for me, as I get to go back to my home state and enjoy a weekend full of seeing old friends, listening to great music, eating delicious food and more. As the lineup was announced earlier this year we were pretty ecstatic to see some of our favorite acts all playing under the beautiful setting of Zilker Park. With notable headliners like Foo Fighters, Drake, and Florence and The Machine as well as other recent acts to leave a great impression on Denver like alt-j, Twenty One Pilots, and Leon Bridges, we decide to take time and make a note off some of the bands we are most excited to catch.

No words (Photo Credit: Andrew Rios)

Another main stay of this years festival is the abundance of different kinds of food being served during the festival, ACL Eats always manages to outdo itself every year with great dishes by some of the areas finest establishments. With dishes like the "can't miss" Chi'lantro french fries, to the poultry filled cones of awesomeness from The Mighty Cone, ACL will surely provide for your appetite no matter what your poison is. Check out all of the participating restaurants menus here. Be sure to pace yourself, you have there days to try everything. We will be instagramming all this for you so don't worry.

 

Bands to see Friday include early sets from Meg Myers, Nate Reuss and Royal Blood. Late afternoon sets by Albert Hammond Jr, Leon Bridges and Billy Idol set yup for a great evening with Run The Jewels, Gary Clark Jr., Tame Impala, Disclosure, and Foo Fighters. Not a bad way to kick off the first night of festivities.

Foo Fighters headline the first night of the the two weekend festival. (Photo Credit: Castro)

Day two of the festival is also full of amazing acts including early sets by Echosmith and Milo Greene (one of our favorite UMS acts this year). Ryn Weaver, Father John Misty and Glass Animals provide for some mid-day fun. The early evening provides for hometown favorite Shakey Graves as well as tween favorites WALK THE MOON (still don't understand the all caps), a little bit of hip hop from G- Eazy and A$AP Rocky gets the party started while Modest Mouse and Bassnectar provide headline support for the evenings best in deadmau5 and Drake. 

The last day of any festival feels like you've been cast as an extra zombie in The Walking Dead, yet it becomes a cry for rally time for us. While most of Austin will be curing hangovers with mimosas and breakfast tacos, we will be hitting the grounds hard catching early sets from Jidenna and Lion Babe. Sunday's early afternoon vibe seems to favor more of a chill vibe as Daughter, BØRNS, and Lord Huron take the stage. Things get interesting as our first scheduling conflict of the day has us deciding between Sylvan Esso and Halsey. As the sun begins to set a perfectly paired The Decemberist and Ben Howard go against each other. Early evening sets by Vance Joy, alt-j and Hozier make way for the festivals final acts in The Weeknd and Florence and The Machine closing out the three day festival of awesomeness. Be sure to follow us all weekend on Twitter and Instagram for live coverage and some amazing photos.

Music | Riot Fest | The National Western Complex | Saturday: Photo Essay

After a tone deafening Friday night, it was another fun filled day of amazing music on Saturday. Our first order of business was covering GWAR, with our lenses and camera protected we were prepared for an onslaught of fake blood and vial explosions of liquids. The band who traditionally is outfitted in full monster costumes came out and never let up. Nice way to set the tone for a full Saturday. Other notable early acts were The Vandals (who doesn't love The Vandals?), Desaparecidos and Joy Formidable. We still remembering catching Joy Formidable at the first Red Bull Sound Select show here in Denver about a year ago.

GWAR was an experience. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

The early evening sets were highlighted by Jesse Hughes and The Eagles of Death Metal as well as legendary ska legends The Mighty Mighty Bosstone's who haven't lost their touch. A rather impressive early evening set by Cold War Kids had the Riot Stage pretty packed. We have had a chance to see the band a handful of times and must say this was one of their best so far. A short break finally gave us a chance to enjoy the carnival atmosphere by indulging in corn dogs and funnel cakes and while witnessing people attempt to prevent from throwing up after getting of the dizzying rides. (Luckily we didn't see anybody)

Desaparecidos rocking out. (Photo Credit: Matt Smith)

The joy of watching Ritzy and A Joy Formidable. (Photo Credit: Robert Castro)

The evening gave us memorable performances by Alkaline Trio, The Pixies, and Run DMC who brought out all the old school hip hop hits. The Main stage support brough out headliners Modest Mouse and Rancid each paying tribute to an array of hits from each of their catalogs. Rancid played the entire "...And Out Come The Wolves" album garnering a slew of applause and crazy mosh pit. 

Saturday's Best Photos: Robert Castro, Matthew Smith and Liz Whitman