The Case for LouFest

These days it seems like there is a music festival in every city during the summer. Each week it seems like there is a new one popping up. To the non-music professional, this seems like a tough environment to be in if you are either a small music festival, or a festival in a smaller non-coastal market. Now I don’t know what goes into a planning a festival. I don’t know about booking acts, and I don’t know the process for picking the best acts for any given festival. I do love music. All kinds of music. And I also love LouFest. LouFest was my first major music festival. For that reason it will have a special place in my heart. But I also love LouFest for the friendly environment it creates, and I love it because St. Louis is such a great place to visit. Since my first LouFest, Begt and I make it a point to go back every year. We don’t live near each other, and sometimes don’t get to see each other very often. But we have Sandy Beats and LouFest.

This year, I was very excited for LouFest. I bought the super early bird ticket, and anxiously awaited the lineup. Begt and I made predictions, and assumptions. When the lineup hit, I was thrilled. But I felt like I was alone. Reading St. Louis newspaper articles, the comments on LouFest’s instagram and comments in the LouFest subreddit illustrated to me that people were not happy.  The comments varied from the disgruntled, to the downright angry. I didn’t (and don’t) understand the anger. I mean, I wish that LouFest featured the reunion of Oasis (unlikely that reunion will happen) or included a performance from Tupac’s hologram…but I realized that LouFest isn’t going to cater to just my taste. They are going to cater to a wide variety of tastes that will result in ticket sales and happy guests. I am fortunate that I live in a city that gets more than our fair share of shows. I am fortunate that I get to see more shows that most people can dream about, but I understand that there is a lot of competition out there for music festivals and different markets. St. Louis cannot complete in terms of sales to places like LA, Chicago, DC or Seattle. But, they can still host a heck of a festival that beats some of those other cities when it comes to the friendliness of attendees, the cleanliness of the park, or the green-ness of festival facilities. I choose to go to LouFest for the things I cannot get in Las Vegas or other nearby cities. The quality of the festival is the draw. I am spoiled because there is also incredible music.

This year’s lineup rivals the two previous years I attended. There are some great well-known acts, some under the radar wonders and up & comers. I personally am beyond excited to see The Avett Brothers again. I caught them in two back to back shows last year and they proved to be one of the best live bands I’ve seen. Readers of this blog know how much I love Brandon Flowers. Heck, I am paying less to see The Avett Brothers, Brandon Flowers and two full days of music than I did just to see The Avett Brothers once. I am super excited to see a band I’ve been following for a while that doesn’t seem to make it out west very often, Delta Rae. And I am looking forward to experiencing bands I didn’t even know about before the LouFest lineup like Pokey LaFarge, Knox Hamilton and The Suffers. LouFest is the place where I discovered some of my favorite bands like The Mowgli’s, Wild Cub and Vintage Trouble.

I know that this year will be different…as every year has been and will be. But I can tell you I am ready to hop on that plane and head to St. Louis for LouFest 2015. I will enjoy every minute, and in the end I won’t be upset that Liam and Noel didn’t get back together in front of my eyes under the lush trees of Forest Park.

Here is the first of many previews of LouFest 2015.

Here is “Live and Die” from The Avett Brothers.

Here is “Can’t Deny My Love” from Brandon Flowers

Delta Rae with “Morning Comes”

Here is Pokey LaFarge with “Something in the Water”

Knox Hamilton (featuring the Clinton Presidential Library and Mr. Ray Zerback) with “Work It Out”

And finally, The Suffers with “Gwan”

LouFest is going to kick some major ass.

WALK THE MOONDAY: It was awesome!

Monday was my very much awaited for Walk the Moon show at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, OK. Last time I saw these guys was at the same venue in October 2013, which was equally awesomesaucey.

I enlisted two friends to come with me and got overpriced tickets after last night’s show sold out. But lemme tell youuuuuuuuuu… It was worth it. I danced the whole time, sang along, and wished I had painted my face to show how much of a WTM fan I really am.

The set was perfect, even though they didn’t play “Fixin'” which is one of my favorite tracks from their Walk The Moon album.

Join the party, yo! The drive to and from Tulsa and the late night were totally worth it and I will continue doing it until they play close to me in Arkansas.

New Music and Repeat One

I am going to try to be brief and include a lot of music in a (hopefully) tiny post.

New Music

The last two weeks have seen some really solid releases. Overall I’ve been listening to a lot of different music, but for the new music I will go back to some old favorites.

Readers (or co-author) of this blog may understand the depth of love I get from the music of The Killers. Well, frontman Brandon Flowers has recorded a new record out mid May. His second solo record The Desired Effect is thought to have a more 80’s influence than Flamingo. The first single off the record is the very 80’s inspired Can’t Deny My Love”. I had the extreme pleasure to see him perform a tiny (250 capacity) venue here in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago. One of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. Brandon Flowers is quite the performer.

Here is “Can’t Deny My Love”

Up next is a favorite of Sandy Beats, Twenty One Pilots. Their newest single “Fairly Local” is a bit more “hip-hoppy” sounding than their previous work, but the dark introspective lyrics are still there.

“Fairly Local” from the forthcoming Blurryface

My last new music pick is from Of Monsters and Men. I enjoyed their first record, and am quite excited for this new release, particularly after hearing the first single “Crystals”.

Here is “Crystals” from the release Beneath the Skin

Repeat One(s)

I’ve been listening to a ton of music as I recently paid for Spotify. It has opened up my ears to a lot of different bands. Which is great.

There are a variety of reasons that this happens, but sometimes, just sometimes, I go through a phase where I listen to music that is just a bit more “country” than normal. During one of those binges I found Sturgill Simpson. A mix of outlaw country from the 70’s with topics that are very much today. Here is “Turtles All The Way” from Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. Hopefully I will get to see him later this month as he plays the Brooklyn Bowl with special guests The Lone Bellow(!!!).

When I heard that Belle & Sebastian were coming out with a new record, I was quite excited. They were one of my favorites back in college when I had a radio show. I had not really followed them much after college, but now some 13 years later they are back in heavy rotation in my world. I love the entirety of Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, but “Nobody’s Empire” has become one of my favorite songs. The lyrics are pure poetry…

In my more somber moods, I’ve been turning to music like Tourist’s “Wait”. It reminds me of much of the electronic music I listened to years ago, but is of course as modern as it gets.

In other news, 2015 has started out on a similar path as 2014 in regards to live shows. I finished out the first quarter of the year with Trampled By Turtles, and start off April with 3 shows: Milky Chance, St. Lucia (!!!) and Alt-J.

And in the next few weeks LouFest will start to come alive with tickets, and some teasers for line-up. Who do you think will be there this year?

One month and 6 Days Late – Happy 2015!

As my good friend @begt likes to point out, I have been slacking in 2015. The truth is, I’ve started a new job, I’ve got a new outlook on my year, and I’ve got a beard. All these things take time and energy…but rest assured, Sandy Beats and music are still a priority for 2015.

I know it is only February, but I’ve already found a couple of my favorite bands of the year.

The first is Air Review. This Dallas based quartet found their way into my ears via Spotify when listening to a a few “suggested” bands. The song that pulled me in was “America’s Son”.

Their 2013 album Low Wishes is incredible. I definitely suggest listening if you like a more atmospheric indie folk rock vibe.

My other first favorite band of the year is Priory. I saw this band at Life Is Beautiful and I vaguely remember them as being good. Then late last year they were one of the bands on the bill for a local radio station’s holiday show. I was excited to see them again and they did not disappoint. They were definitely a stand out in that show and after giving their debut self-titled record a listen and then their new EP, I was hooked. I think  that their song with radio play, “Weekend’ is good, but it does not even begin to showcase their sound and talent.

My favorite from them is “Put ’em Up”.

So there is just a small taste of what I’ve been listening to. More is definitely to come as 2015 progresses.

Here is to more music, more shows and more fun in 2015!

It is the end of the world (aka 2014) as we know it…and I feel fine.

It has been too long, and we are sorry. There has been a long absence from us. But 2015 is upon us, and that means more new music and more shows.

2014 has ended out with a bang. I think I’ve seen the last two shows of my 2014 (who knows, that may change). With great joy I witnessed the homecoming of one of Sandy Beats’ favorite bands, Imagine Dragons, as well as a new locally bred favorite Brumby. I also enjoyed the sweet sounds of one of my Life is Beautiful favorites Priory and revisited my teenage years with Bush.

It is not quite yet time for the best of 2014 from @begt and I, but that will come in January, I can assure you.

In the meantime…

My “classic” Repeat One of the moment is “Calamity Song” by indie folk leaders The Decemberists.

My “new” Repeat One of the moment (which should be no surprise) is “Shut Up and Dance” by WALK THE MOON (who will be gracing Las Vegas in May!!)

And while they didn’t play the song when I saw them this week…it is only fitting to honor Imagine Dragons with “Look How Far We’ve Come”. If the time comes that I leave Las Vegas, this band will signify my time here. I cannot help but get goosebumps any time I hear their music.

Another band I saw recently who has held a top spot on my playlist as of recent is We Were Promised Jetpacks. This Scottish band rocks my world each and everyday with “Quiet Little Voices”

As mentioned, Las Vegas bred Brumby is new discovery to me. “High Waters” has been on my playlist for the last week.

I’ll leave you with my three biggest Life is Beautiful surprises. First up is St. Paul and the Broken Bones with “Call Me”. If this doesn’t get something stirring inside of you, I think you should call your doctor.

Nahko and Medicine for the People brought me back to my roots with with “Manifesto II”.

And finally, Catfish and the Bottlemen with “Cocoon”.

Repeat One & The Head & The Heart Preview

In direct response to @begt I have a couple Repeat One selections. Granted, by having more than one, they aren’t technically Repeat One’s. However, here at Sandy Beats we do not always follow the rules. This post is no exception.

Next week @begt and I will make a trek to my hometown and the world famous Red Rocks Amphitheater to see The Head & The Heart and Iron & Wine. It will be a great trip seeing a couple great bands (and my family and hopefully some friends along the way). I was not really much of a Head & The Heart fan until about a year ago, and so in their honor, my first Repeat One is my favorite off of their current record Let’s Be Still called “Josh McBride”.

The second Repeat One is more traditional, in that, I am listening to it on repeat pretty frequently. Readers of this fine blog are aware of my love affair with the music of Moby despite not posting about him as often as I could. His latest release is a song from the newest Paul Haggis movie called Third Person. The video features a few scenes from the movie as well. The song is called “The Only Thing”. The lyrics, the visuals and music make this song my Repeat One.

I’ll leave you with that. Between last Saturday and next Saturday I have 4 shows to see. The first one was a great way to start off the week, The Hold Steady,  the final show will be Cut Copy. I’ll see you on the flip side.

What are YOU listening to?

I really want to know what YOU are listening to right now! Please take to the comments, the twitter, the instagram, sky writing, and let us know what you are listening to. Please, it is really all I ask.

I am now too far out from May to give you my entire May recap. But…I am going to present to you the three of the bands that made May a great month for music.

Las Vegas locals Play for Keeps have been around for a while. I’ve seen them open for Imagine Dragons and play a local bar over the last few years. They’ve come a long way from being a garage band, to a great band with a tight sound a strong stage presence. I think they have a future in music if they keep up the good songwriting and keep improving their stage presence. Here is “Come Around”:

Hailing from one of my favorite cities, New Orleans, Soul Rebels are a second line brass band that plays a mix of jazz, funk, hip hop and more. They played a few nights at the Brooklyn Bowl here in Las Vegas. I was fortunate to catch them twice. Here is “504”.

I knew going into the month that the concert of the month was going to take place on May 7th. On that night, Hunter Hunted, NONONO and Twenty One Pilots would be performing at the Brooklyn Bowl. The night started right with Hunted Hunted, and continued on with NONONO and their sweet electro-pop sounds. Now, I’ve seen 12 shows at the BBLV…including one of my most favorite bands The Naked & Famous…but no show that I’ve seen there, and maybe a handful I’ve seen elsewhere can compare to Twenty One Pilots. Words cannot describe just how good these two guys are at what they do. They feel every damn song. If you’ve never taken a listen to their music or their lyrics, you may not realize how much Tyler, the lead singer, bares his inner thoughts in each song. Here is my favorite “Guns for Hands” live:

 

June did not have anywhere near the number of shows for me that May did, but July has already started with a bang and that will continue on through Life is Beautiful in October. Stay tuned for more on that.

I will leave you with one last song…here is Trampled By Turtles (who will be at Life is Beautiful!!!!) with their newest single “Wild Animals”. I cannot get enough of this song.