Concert Review: Kamasi Washington at the Buckhead Theater on Nov. 17

As the lights dimmed in Atlanta’s Buckhead Theater, James Brown’s “Get Up Offa That Thing” played overhead and members of Kamasi Washington’s band walked on stage and received a warm welcome from the audience.

Once Kamasi stepped on stage, we were all transfixed by his presence – immense, towering, powerful. The audience yelled and hollered and even I, being relatively new to his music, felt I was in the presence of a real demigod. In fact, Washington has been referred to as the “savior of jazz,” but he’s always been too humble to accept the accolade.

Photo credit: Krists Luhaers, https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:POS17_@Kristsll-409_(35194970423).jpg

FlyLo and Thundercat have made a name for themselves as more electronic musicians, but Washington doesn’t feel the need to stray too far from traditional jazz. He’s emulated and expanded upon the music of his jazz heroes and proved that he can do it bigger and better than perhaps any other jazz musician at the moment.

I was blown away by the power and energy that Washington packed into his performance. I was expecting a relatively mellow night, but Washington and his band delivered super funky bass jams, an epic drum-off between his two drummers, and soaring vocals from his vocalist Patrice Quinn that got the entire theater dancing.

After a few songs, he introduced Quinn by saying “Patrice is one of the best singers I know. You can tell some people are good by the way they talk, but Patrice, she sounds amazing even when she’s cursing at you.”

After Washington introduced Quinn, she launched into the most powerful song of the set: “Malcolm’s Theme,” from Washington’s debut album, The Epic. The songs lyrics come directly from Ossie Davis’ eulogy for civil rights icon Malcolm X. The moving lyrics, paired with Quinn’s emotional, powerful, and beautiful delivery gave everyone goosebumps.

My favorite part of the set was when Washington’s stand-up bass player, Miles Mosley, played his incredible funk epic “Abraham.” I was blown away by Mosley’s ability to create such otherworldly and groovy sounds. Here is a link to a performance of Mosley’s playing “Abraham” that I suggest you all watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c73NCDr5ACo (skip to 3:30 if you’re limited for time).

After being mesmerized by Washington for almost two hours of free-jazz digressions and thoughtful, intricate pieces, I felt like I’d been to a different universe and back. Just like the legendary Pharaoh Sanders who I had the chance to see earlier this year, Washington’s music transcended all of us to another realm of experiencing. Washington confirmed that jazz can be as lively, engaging, and fascinating as any other genre, if not more so.

Concert Review: FIDLAR at Gothic Theater 10/26

When I tell people FIDLAR is one of my favorite bands, they look shocked. The thought of a small basic-looking girl liking punk rock blows minds. But FIDLAR isn’t just like any punk rock band. Their tongue-in-cheek lyrics over heavy guitar riffs seems to be a product of their west coast skater lifestyle and embodies their acronym: “Fuck It Dog Life’s A Risk.” FIDLAR’s carefree but angsty attitude captures youth sentiment in a palatable way while touching on systemic issues that are reminiscent of early punk music.

I saw FIDLAR in D.C. after their album “Too” came out during my sophomore year of high school. My first punk concert was one of confusion, excitement, and fear. This can be said for all my girl friends that I have dragged into FIDLAR’s mosh pits. The mosh pit can be a dangerous place, especially for small girls. But honestly, if you aren’t moshing at a punk concert what the fuck are you doing.

The mosh pit is a place where people come to express themselves and confront emotional experiences as a community. Although I interpret FIDLAR’s lyrics as mostly sarcastic, they lay down some hard facts about social and institutional issues in America as well as reflect on personal struggles with relationships and drug abuse. These insights are usually buried in satirism, but never seem to be lost on the crowd. FIDLAR’s upbeat guitar solos and screaming chorus remind me that I don’t have to be alone with my problems. I’ve never felt so supported in a crowd of strangers than I have at a punk concert.

As soon as I saw that FIDLAR was on tour, I immediately raced to my computer to get a ticket and, with some bribing, took my friend’s truck down to the Gothic Theater in Denver with two other girls. We made our way to the front as the opening band Side Eyes jumped on. The pit immediately erupted into a sea of smashing shirtless bodies and flailing arms in response to the lead singers siren-like screeching. My friends and I looked at each other with a what-the-fuck-did-we-just-get-ourselves-into look as we watched a group of older kids hardcore moshing with fake blood coming out of their eyes and ears. This was just an opener. The energy mellowed out when the next opener, Dilly Dally, came on with an eerie ambience in the lead singer’s voice and bass guitar chords.The pit was still very much alive, but my guard was lowered as I soaked in the wailing chords and the most quintessentially girl punk screams ever.

The crowd started closing in as people on stage started tuning the arsenal of guitars against the pile of old TV’s on the stage. My friends and I agreed that we would try to keep our spot next to the metal gate at the base of the stage and mosh only if we were really into the song. This agreement was shortly broken after the guitar chords for “Alcohol’ emerged from the back of the stage. I felt the force of the entire crowd pressing on my back when the mosh pit began to push towards the front as Zac, Max, Brandon, and Elvis casually strutted onto stage. There was no introduction, just a small smirk from Zac, then an absolute explosion from the mosh pit as he began to sing FIDLAR’s hit song “No Waves.” I decided to abandon my post and join my people. I have never been in a mosh pit so chaotic; about 40 or 50 kids pushing and shoving each other so forcefully that it was common that groups of people would have to be picked up off the ground. I couldn’t tell if I finally found a crowd of true punk enthusiasts or a group of belligerently drunk men who needed to expel a lot of pent-up testosterone. Either way, I embraced FIDLAR’s acronym and assumed an athletic stance before throwing myself into the pit.  

Mosh pits are generally a very male-dominated space because of the physical dangers as well as their stigma. It felt very empowering to occupy this space with other girls and completely own it together. I befriended a few girls when I was moshing who were also struggling with the combative nature of the pit. It seemed like the band picked up on this issue because right after I was forcibly separated from my friends, Zac grabbed the mic. He told the pit to create an aisle down the middle and then announced that the space created was for a girls-only mosh pit. I weaved through the crowd of skyscraper-sized men and jumped into our pit. We screamed and laughed and moshed the shit out of “5-9.” I gained so much respect for the people around me that night. I don’t want to admit how many times someone pulled me out of an uncomfortable place in a mosh pit or caught me when I was about to fall, but I would like to say how much compassion I felt by FIDLAR and their fans. Near the end of the show, I told a girl I met that I wanted to crowd surf FIDLAR, and next thing I know, her boyfriend had rallied a group of people to pick me up and sent me across the crowd. The gratitude I felt for that couple I met and the FIDLAR community while crowd surfing was indescribable.

The pit never lost steam, and continued to mosh even after FIDLAR ended their set. After a lot of screaming and pushing, FIDLAR came back on for an encore to perform “Blackout Stout” and then absolutely killed their final song. Zac ordered the pit to sit down on the floor so we were forced to sit on top of each other and quietly waited as the looping guitar riff introduction for “Cocaine” teased us. The pit burst to life as soon as Zac screamed the first lines: “you take Sally and I’ll take Sue/There ain’t no difference between the two.” Everyone emptied the rest of their emotions and energy in the pit with that song. I left the concert feeling like a weight had been lifted off my soul, but redistributed onto all my bruised limbs. Honestly, it’s worth the trade-off.

FIDLAR continues to be one of my favorite punk rock bands. Their emphasis on gender inclusivity aligns with the ideology of punk rock. I encourage everyone -especially women- to go to a punk concert and join its wonderful community of strangers at least once in life. The people that I have met in the pit become less like strangers and more like friends after sharing even a moment of moshing together. FIDLAR recently announced that their third studio album “Almost Free” will be released January 25. No tour dates or locations have been announced yet, but I am already looking forward to seeing them and the FIDLAR community again!

Soccer Mommy & Slow Hollows Concert Review

 Recently I saw two shows for free, in exchange for reviewing them. The first show I took up on a whim, trying to convince myself that I liked this particular band, Slow Hollows, enough to drive up to Denver for an hour and watch them play to a sparsely filled out audience. Mostly, that was true –– I was looking for an easy way to keep the few scraps of leftover summer spontaneity alive, in an attempt to offset the quickly settling CC-induced feeling of utter boredom.
The second show, though, was Soccer Mommy––someone I’d already loved, with another favourite––Sasami––as the opener.
Both Slow Hollows and Soccer Mommy consist of people that are about my (and probably yours’) age, which, every time I think about it, induces in me a complicated feeling of awe, inadequacy and existential dread. Like a lot of other people nearing the end of their time in college, I have no fucking idea what I’m doing. None of my most beloved pursuits inspire any confidence in their ability to provide for a simple roof and a (to be fair, not-so-simple) meal, and I spend at least a few minutes each day wallowing in this mind void. So, this confrontation with people who are actually doing what they love, is both sweet and ego-destroying, especially when they’re successful.
    The success segment looks different for the two bands. Slow Hollows, fronted by Austin Anderson, are on their first national tour; still, Anderson is featured on both Tyler, The Creator’s “Flower Boy” and Frank Ocean’s “Blonde” and “Endless.”
Slow Hollows at Lost Lake

 

Instrumentally, their set felt tight, if a little generic, soaring to its peak during the trumpet’s occasional features. Lyrically, though, the songs lived in the realm of the cliché, with rhymes like “you/glue” and “leaving/dreaming” sticking so saccharinely they carved cavities in my auditory cortex. I wanted so badly to like them better than I did, so I heard myself using their ages as some sort of excuse or explanation for their relative mediocrity, employing that same “you’ll understand when you’re older” mentality I’ve felt so hurt and patronized by in the past. Mostly, I think, I wanted them to be better, because I projected this position of young-creative-new-and-improved American Dream (i.e. you can do anything if you just believe&work rly hard) onto them. I wanted them to feel ageless, so that I could stop feeling hindered by my age too. Alas, I left that show confused, though a little more energised for having briefly left the bubble.
Soccer Mommy at Globe Hall
    A few weeks later, I sped through dense, viscous tonkotsu-like fog on the I25 to Globe Hall, a BBQ place-stroke-venue in Denver. I got there just in time to catch the latter half of Sasami’s set, which was wonderful, although sometimes a little less full than I’d expected, probably because of Globe Hall’s funky acoustics.
Then, after a short break, Soccer Mommy came on. Instantly, the room’s attention tunnel-visioned onto the stage. Sophie [Allison, the frontwoman]’s voice sounded so clear and perfect that I kept having to ask my friends if it was autotuned. Each song took me through a new story, poignantly communicated in each sound and lyric. The songs felt self-aware; they seemed to know exactly what they were trying to say, and the most evocative way to say it.
The fact that Allison and her bandmates are all college-aged did not present itself to me, until she told the audience that it was her bandmate, Graeme’s, 22nd birthday. The lyrical content was only aware of its performer’s age within references to school. The artistry of each piece, though, was outside of the youth that’s synonymous with inexperience. Allison’s work is as intricate, grounded and steeped in craft as any of those artists whose age we don’t even seem to know.
She towers above the “you’ll understand when you’re older” mentality, showing us (or at the very least, me) that we can, and do, understand “it” now, even if the “it” looks differently today. Her success barely inspires any jealousy; instead, I drive home from the show inspired, bursting with energy, grinning, happy to be my age again.

Jungle Concert Review

Photo credit: Bristol PA Hire

After seeing Jungle live in Singapore back in 2015, I never imagined I would watch them perform on stage again in Colorado Springs. I remember standing beneath the midday sun, on the grass lawn at the Gardens by the Bay Venue in Singapore, waiting to watch the band I had listened to on repeat, perform live for the tiny, but incredibly enthused city. Jungle wasn’t terribly well known at the time, at least in Singapore, and I remember watching a speckled crowd thicken instantly as the music began. I watched the collective of talented, and enthused musicians gain energy with the crowd, and the experience truly began to feel somewhat symbiotic. Although started by just two talented musicians, Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson, only two years prior to their visit to Singapore, Jungle is a music collective that now embodies community, inclusivity, and shared energy. I remember looking on stage with the impression of witnessing an orchestra perform, except I’d never danced like that to the sound of an orchestra.

Three years later I find myself patiently waiting within the dark, intimate setting of The Black Sheep in Colorado Springs, comparing the crisp chill outside to the humidity I remembered from Singapore. Three years and their songs “Busy Earnin’” and “Heat” still remained on my dance playlist; I anticipated the surge of energy I experienced in 2013, and watched other members of the audience as they waited excitedly. After two funky openers, who left the crowd animated, but full of energy still, a longer interlude from the DJ informed let the audience know Jungle was next. As the music died down slightely, deep red lights filled the room, and the crowd began screaming with excitement as the members of the band rolled out on stage.

I stood from a raised ledge that stretched down the side of the venue, and watched as the audience members fed off of the energy exhibited by the band, and the band absorbed the vigor from the crowd. The small venue space seemed to fill completely, and not a single person in the room remained still. The sound feels like a modernized combination of soul and funk, and it feels impossible not to move to in one way or another.

When Jungle plays through bluetooth speakers in the living room of my home, all I can think about is the experience of watching their live performance; the spirit of performance makes Jungle about being there, more than anything else. Not only does Jungle make their music about participating in it, but they make themselves accessible too, travelling halfway across the world to share their sound with the Colorado Springs community!

Concert Review: Courtney Barnett at The Ogden Theater on 9/28

Taken by Eric de Redelijkheid on Flikr

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to see the first night of Courtney Barnett’s North American tour promoting her most recent album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, released this May. My sister and I navigated our way through a crowd of IPA-drinking and Blundstone-wearing 30-something-year-old fans and eventually made our way to the front of Denver’s Ogden Theater. I’ve been lucky enough to see Courtney twice before – once with Kurt Vile promoting their joint album Lotta Sea Lice at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, and another time at Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta – but this was the most intimate venue I’d seen her play.

From the moment she stepped on the stage, no one could take their eyes off of her. I don’t play guitar myself, so I’m not typically apt at telling a guitar virtuoso apart from a player who’s just okay, but after watching Courtney’s intricate fretting all over the guitar neck, I realized what exceptional talent she had. She’s been praised countless times for her lyricism, but her abilities on the guitar are seriously underrated.

If you’re already familiar with Courtney Barnett, you’d know that she’s been lauded for her witty attention to detail and ability to create memorable songs out of mundane events ever since she started making music in 2014. For instance, some of her best-known songs are about an asthma attack, house hunting, and eating ramen noodles. However, some of her songs are a much more personal and vulnerable account of life through her eyes. The audience lost it when she sung one of her most well-known songs, “Pedestrian at Best,” and everyone yelled with her as she screamed “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you! / Tell me I’m exceptional, I promise to exploit you!” Her self-deprecating remark is an ironic statement about not wanting to be fame that inevitably comes along with being a musical phenomenon.

Similarly, one of the songs on her new album is titled “Crippling Self-Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence” and here she is also especially critical about herself (“I never feel as stupid as when I’m around you / And indecision rots / Like a bag of last week’s meat”). However, she still comes across as uninhibited – never caring how her audience will receive her perceived self-consciousness. Even though that songs ends with her claiming “I don’t know, I don’t know anything,” and repeats it literally twelve times, it’s obvious that one thing she does know is herself.

At one point during the show, she introduced one of her older songs “Are You Looking After Yourself?” by telling us she wrote it after a long phone call with her parents. The song begins with a line that was spoken by her parents: “Are you working / hard my darling? / We’re so worried,” but she counters their criticism with: “I don’t want to no 9 to 5 / Telling me that I’m alive.” Later in the song, her parents suggest “You should start some / sort of trust fund / just in case you fail.” I imagine that being a musician, especially one who writes so personally like Courtney does, can be terrifying since she has to constantly rely on others’ validation and positive reception in order to keep going. However, Courtney replies with a sarcastic response and sings “I don’t know what I was thinking / I should get a job… / should get married / have some babies / watch the evening news.” The thought that Courtney, a woman of such obvious talent, would quit making art and instead get a job is ridiculous.

Her humble attitude helps explain why 1,600 of us in the sold-out Ogden Theater were so entranced by Courtney for her entire two-hour long set; she’s so devoted to her work and in love with what she is doing that we couldn’t help but marvel at all of the energy she put in to every note and every word. Thanks, Courtney, for blowing us all away once again, and I hope this won’t be the last time I see you!

Concert Preview: Jungle at the Black Sheep 9/28

jungle
Credits: BBC Radio 6 Music/ prvnce.com
Jungle, an English modern soul musical collective was formed by Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson in London back in 2013. McFarland and Lloyd-Watson had known each other since the age of nine, where they lived as neighbors in Shepherds Bush, London. After playing in various musical groups throughout their secondary education, the pair formed Jungle. The pair became known as J and T, after advocating for a concentration on the aesthetic of their sound, focusing on art and video, instead of their own personal identity taking stage.  

Since its formation, and after their first year spent playing with other artists of a variety of disciplines, Jungle has become a seven-piece band. J and T resisted the route of re-producing their music and performing on laptops, and instead rendered their music into authentic, live performance. J and T understand music to be a collective and collaborative experience, and that energy is absolutely palpable when they perform. 

Their first album, “Jungle,” was released in 2014, and since they have released various singles, and just recently came out with a new album, “For Ever,” on September 14th of this year. The music collective has travelled across the world to perform, and will be visiting Colorado Springs for the first time next Friday, September 28th, 2018.  

Jungle’s style is often characterized as “midtempo 1970s funk,” with sounds such as tropical percussion, wildlife noise, falsetto yelps, and psychedelic waves. Whether it be the inclusive nature of the band, or perhaps the diversity of their sound, Jungle offers a performance of absolute energy.  

Be sure to check out CC’s Concerts and Shows Facebook group for carpool opportunities to the show. We hope to see you there. 

 LISTEN: “Busy Earnin’” 

Porches at Larimer Lounge 2/26

  I first saw Porches at a Pitchfork after-show in 2016 at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. I had never heard of them, but my friend had an extra ticket, so I decided to go. In a darkly-lit dive-bar filled with Dickies, jean jackets, and dirty-baseball-cap-cladden patrons, I stood stage left for a band soon to be one of my favorites to see live. Their sound is melancholy synth pop backed by house style drums, and fronted by a strong, high falsetto and sometimes auto-tuned voice from lead Aaron Maine. Though I had never seen Porches before, their sound no doubt gave me a nostalgic vibe for a time or musical space I still can’t quite place my finger on.
        Upon my two year hiatus of seeing them live, their sound this time brought me nostalgia for my first time seeing them. They played a sold out show at Larimer Lounge on February 26th and featured tracks not only from their new album, “The House,” which came out this year, but also from previous records––“Pool” and “Slow Dance in the Cosmos”. Between 2016 and 2018, the ambiance of their shows has stayed roughly consistent. Larimer Lounge is a small bar with a stage in the back that was lit like a middle school dance. The soft greens and pinks matched well with the many high-school and college-aged attendees that wore their share of early 2000’s clothing.
        Listening to their recorded music, for the most part, gives me the night time bedroom bump headspace. This translates to a live performance that is very calmly presented, but emotional. There isn’t a whole lot of dancing or motion from anyone on stage, but the unifying soft vocals and strong chord progressions are where the emotion really comes from. Most of the crowd seemed to love every bit of the show, as call out requests were semi-frequent and sing-a-longs were plenty, especially to the chorus’ of tracks like “Car” and “Be Apart”. Most songs were accompanied by head bobs and mellow sways from the crowd, but more house-inspired tracks like “Pool” got most people, especially myself, dancing with a large grin on their face.
        A personal favorite moment of mine was during the encore. At the beginning of the show, Aaron mentioned that two people had flown into Denver to see this show, and someone had gifted a pair of cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat to match, to the band. During the encore, the rhythm guitarist came out donning the white hat, which looked extra goofy on him as it was clearly too small for his head. The hat made its way around to most of the members, fitting some better than others, all giving the crowd a memorable ending to the show.
        Though Porches’ overall aesthetic and fanbase are rooted in the sad, lo-fi realm, their emotion, cohesion, and crowd interactions make for consistently pleasing shows that give plenty of good energy.

CONCERT PREVIEW: BROCKHAMPTON @ The Ogden Theater, February 22

Brockhampton, stylized as BROCKHAMPTON, is a California-based American hip-hop collective formed in San Marcos, Texas in 2015. Brockhampton was founded on Internet forum KanyeToThe, leading them to be described as ‘The Internet’s first boy band’. They released their first mixtape All-American Trash in 2016, their first album Saturation in June 2017, and their second album Saturation II in August 2017.

No one could have predicted a year ago the height Brockhampton has reached. The boyband shot to superstardom somewhere between the releases of Saturation II and III. In just the last few weeks, Brockhampton has been featured on TRL, Fantano, and in Converse’s “Rated One Star” campaign.

America’s favorite boyband will be coming to Denver as a part of their LOVE YOUR PARENTS tour . The show is next Thursday February 22 at The Ogden Theater. Based on tour footage from their recent shows and the members’ respective Instagram stories, this not one to miss.

Be sure to check out CC’s Concerts and Shows Facebook group for carpool opportunities to the show. We hope to see you there.

LISTEN: “Boogie”

CONCERT PREVIEW: Keys N Krates @ Boulder Theater, February 9

Welcome back to school and reality, everyone! With the new year comes a host of dope concerts. The SOCC will be posting previews of shows we think are worth checking out. If you’re looking to enjoy a good night off campus, you can catch Keys N Krates with NYC’s DJ Jubilee at the Boulder Theater on Friday, February 9th.

Toronto’s Keys N Krates have established themselves as one of the biggest names in electronic music, with their song “Dum Dee Dum” achieving RIAA gold status without radio airplay. Party-makers in their own right, KNK also throw an annual festival in their hometown Toronto booking acts like Virgil Abloh, River Tiber, AraabMuzik, and Lunice. More recently, they released “Glitter” ft. Ambré which saw them break the conventions of the dance world and explore R&B. On their forthcoming album Cura they continue to explore sounds outside of the electronic world, a genre that they have led for several years.

One of the inconvenient realities of living in Colorado Springs is that most big names tend to pass us by. While it’s not too hard to get up to Denver or Boulder for a show, most tend to fall on weeknights. Luckily, the Keys N Krates show is on a Friday night, so you don’t even have to worry about making it to class the next morning.

You can buy tickets online here. Check out their single “Glitter” below!

CONCERT REVIEW: Angel Olsen at The Gothic Theather

 

Angel Olsen’s stage presence left the audience in the Gothic Theater silent. You could hear a pin drop as she crooned out notes from many hits of her newest album, “My Woman”. At first one could look around the theater wondering why everyone got the memo to act as a phalanx of statues staring straight ahead. But it was not that the crowd wasn’t enjoying themselves. Following their gazes it was not difficult to figure out why; and fall under Angel’s spell and be captivated by her stage presence. Although Angel sounded amazing on stage, her presence was one of the best aspects of the show. She had the complete attention of everyone around, I think even her bandmates had stars in their eyes.

Her set lasted around an hour, where I was left hungry for more (of course) but I knew it wasn’t the end. Soon to follow was one of the best encores I have seen in a while. Featured was an amazing cover of Motel’s “Total Control” and after being subject to that I can’t think of one person in the audience who wasn’t obsessed with Angel.