Here I sit, Tuesday night and already thinking ahead to Saturday at Life is Beautiful. I am not going to lie. I am least excited for Saturday. That is not to say, I am not going to have fun. There are some AMAZING acts performing on Saturday, and this is my hometown festival…there is no other option than having the best time I can manage. If there is a day that I wander onto a performance that I love…Saturday is the day.
So, there are a few acts that are not to miss on Saturday. In order of awesomeness, they are:
1) Fitz & the Tantrums – as far as live shows go. There are few bands that can even compare. The energy of this LA based group blows most bands away. It does not matter if you aren’t familiar with their songs (which, lets be real, means you haven’t been paying attention), you will dance. If you don’t at least nod your head, you have no soul (I am just kidding).
If you don’t tap your foot or nod your head while listening to “Moneygrabber” please do not tell me.
2) The Roots – Philly bred hip-hop hybrid The Roots are a staple of American pop music. They’ve been relevant longer than many festival goers have been alive. I was first exposed to them in the 90’s as a hip-hop alternative to the prevalent “gansta rap” and they are now best known as the house band on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Regardless of how they are known, they are a headline worthy act, and I wouldn’t miss seeing them live.
3) OutKast – I’ll be honest, when I saw OutKast with @begt at LouFest 2014 I actually said to myself “how can Outkast fill up a 2 hour set”. Those are words I lived to regret. I’ve never been a really intentional fan of Outkast, except maybe during the Dungeon Family record era. Their LouFest show was incredible. Each song better than the last, and the show itself was visually stunning. I know the choice is between Outkast and The Flaming Lips…two very visually dramatic performances, but Outkast will win this round for me. I can also assure you that you know more Outkast songs than you think you do.
For example, “Whole World”…you’ll be singing along in no time.
Other bands of note that I am hoping to catch on Saturday include: Welsh rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen (best name ever?); NYC Based post-punk outfit Bear Hands; @Begt’s recommendation J. Roddy Walston and the Business; and English Indie rockers Alt-J.
I’ll leave you with Catfish and the Bottlemen with “Fallout” which is a freaking awesome video that I probably like more because of my recent trip to the UK.
Life is Beautiful 2014 is only a few days away. It seems like it got here super fast, but its been a busy fall for me, so it is probably just my imagination.
I will be honest, the lineup this year did not have me itching like the 2013 Lineup. Unless this is your first visit to the blog, you know how big of fan I am of bands like The Killers, Imagine Dragons and Childish Gambino who all had big performances last year. This year it is not the headliners that have gotten me excited, rather it is the smaller bands and local acts that will be causing me to move my feet and nod my head.
With 3 days of music and just around 69 bands on the bill, there is a lot more room for lesser known and local acts to have their place.
This year, I decided I would break the preview up so as to make sure I can actually finish three posts as opposed to failing and finishing one long one. With that in mind, here are my picks for Friday. I won’t be able to hit all of these acts up, but I am going to give it my best shot.
It is my belief that Friday has the most solid line-up of the weekend. Literally every time slot has someone I want to see…and a couple have multiple acts I would like to check out. I am not sure if that will happen this weekend, but I will give it the old college try.
My first tough decision comes at the start of the day. It is a choice between two local acts. The first is Ekoh, a local hip-hop artist who has been working the scene for a while. I’ve known of him for a while, but haven’t had the chance to see an entire set until he opened for one of my favorite hip-hop artists, Grieves, this summer. The other choice is local rock outfit Rusty Maples. Also veteran’s of the Vegas scene, this group could be poised to make it big. I had seen them a couple times over the last few years, but became very excited to see how far they’ve come when they opened for Built to Spill early this fall. This will be a game time decision, but to show you just how tough it will be…here are the two acts in question.
First is Ekoh with “Zzyzx Road”
Next here are the Rusty Maples with “Long Walk Home”
With toughest decision of the day out of the way, I am off to the races.
Up next is Portland based Priory. This group has had a minor radio hit with “Weekend”. I am not a huge fan of “Weekend” but the rest of their stuff sounds pretty good. Enjoy “Alone” off of their first release.
At this point, I could head over to the Mainstage to see Phantogram (who I hear is awesome live) or hit up a double header of Kentucky pop rockers Sleeper Agent and LouFest 2014 favorites Vintage Trouble. This would mean I would also miss electro act Girl Talk, but it would put me in great position to see one of my first SoCal favorites (and one of the three last remaining “Christian”-ish groups that I still follow), Switchfoot. There is no doubt that I will be seeing Switchfoot, I just am not sure which path I will take to get there. Check out “When We Come Alive” from their recent Fading West release.
At this point, I will be sticking near two stages who have the rest of the bands I will be watching. My only regret is that I won’t be able to see one of my LouFest 2014 surprises, RAC. From Vegas native and former Rilo Kiley front-woman, Jenny Lewis to fellow desert dwellers and some of Utah’s finest, Neon Trees, and the artists who @begt and I saw at Red Rock, Seattle based The Head and the Heart (!!!). Ending the evening for me will be Vegas locals (and the biggest Vegas headliner of this year’s Life is Beautiful) Panic! At the Disco.
Just so it is clear who I am most excited for, please enjoy “Down in the Valley” by The Head and the Heart.
Stay tuned for preview of Day 2 and Day 3
Saturday was a great day for Love Hope Strength! We broke the goal of 300 people signed up. By the time we put things up, we were at 317, with a day to add to that. From what I hear, this has been the best year at Wakarusa.
We had a lot of on-and-off rain most of the day. The last of it hit toward the of Walk Off The Earth‘s set. They were on my list of sets I wanted to catch, but I didn’t know if it would be possible. We had a lot of people come by around that time at the LHS table, so I was only able to get close to the stage when they were already half into their set. They are totally my cup of tea. Thanks for the recommendation, @DocMurda! I knew they did a cover of “Somebody I Used To Know,” but what I didn’t know, is that they do so with just one guitar… for all 5 of them. This is basically what happened at Waka:
The only other two sets I wanted to catch that day were The Mowgli’s and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. And they happened to have back-to-back sets on different stages. The Mowgli’s set was such a party. The guys and gal sand a couple of new songs, which made me super excited to think of their second album coming together soon! There were great favorites, starting with “Emily.” After the first couple of songs, the band commented on how lame it was the fact that there were just about five folks in the huge VIP area at the Revival Tent. Usually, comments like that make it OK for people to start jumping the fence from the general to VIP areas, but Wakarusa security has been getting more agresive in the last 3 years, so people were discouraged to do so this time. But then it happened, security opened up a part of the fence and everyone went to the VIP area, closer to the stage, and the party started! Some of the other favorites were “Say It, Just Say It,” “Slowly, Slowly,” “Waiting for the Dawn,” “The Great Divide,” “Love is Easy,” “Clean Light,” “Time” (which totally made me miss Mike in the band), and most likely, they ended their set with “San Francisco.” I couldn’t tell you for sure, because I took off about 10 minutes before the end of their set, so that I could get to the Edward Sharpe set and get a good spot.
I should’ve stayed at The Mowgli’s longer. After all, I didn’t get super close at Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros.. at least not as close as others that got to hang out with Alex Ebert, as he came down to sing among the crowd for several of the songs. These guys from Fayettechill totally got a great shot of it HERE.
When ESMO’s set started, there was an awkward mood, the first minute or so of the song, Alex was a bit off the music. As we would say in my homeland, no le hayaba la tonada. But the band caught up with him quickly and the mood got easy. Jade, who had been voted out of the band just days before that show, was definitely missed, but the show went on and it was awesome even in her absence. When it came time to sing “Home” (because they had to, we were in Arkansas, so you have to sing it, you know!), Alex invited the crowd to sing Jade’s part, and that was the only mention of her during the show.
I was alone at the ESM0s show. Like the first time I saw them, at the same Waka stage two years ago. And the same thing happened. My soul got lost in the songs, specially with Om Nashi Me, which was the very last one of the set. For me, the was smiling, dancing, singing along, and a few tears. I cannot explain it, but that’s what ESM0s shows do to me. I left that Main Stage a happier woman than when I made it there, which was hard to do because I was coming from dancing with The Mowgli’s.
I stayed at the LHS table the rest of the evening and into the night. I watched my first String Cheese Incident show from there, next to a new friend who told me all about their history and how she followed them around some in the 90’s. I enjoyed the show a lot more than I could have ever imagined. I thought I would like The Flaming Lips over String Cheese and, to my surprise, it was the opposite.
The String Cheese show was made up of two sets of two hours each. I had thought it’d be one song for a whole three hours… because, jambands. But I was so wrong. Their second included a lot of their early material, so a lot of bluegrass. The light show was amazing. I really enjoyed watching this show from far, next to a super fan.
Sunday was a wash. I woke up early to get my tent packed, grab breakfast, and move my car out of the vendor area. This was the best thing I could have done, because as soon as I got my car close to the gate, the rain started falling hard. By the time I made it to the LHS tent, there was mud everywhere, my car wouldn’t have made it out of that mess.
My original plan was to stay until the end of John Butler Trio’s set (which was scheduled to end at 12:30am Monday) and drive home. But the rain got me out of there around 2pm. I had a full list of reggae-rock bands I wanted to catch on Sunday, but alas, it didn’t happen. My heart was so hurt and full of regret for not braving the rain and staying for John Butler Trio. They are one of my favorite bands, I love their new album, and there is nowhere else in the States where I can catch them before they finish their tour. But I’ve moved on. And I can only hope I can see them live again in the coming years (Someone needs to make this happen!)
My real photos will come tomorrow. I took my sweat time editing them, but I’m done. Also, who wants to buy me a Canon 5D III? Just kidding. No one has to do that. I’m already saving my monies for it. I hope to have it by Red Rocks. That is the goal!
Friday started out with some storms that went on until around 2pm. The first full set I caught was J Roddy Walston & The Business, who rocked at a very wet and not so full Revival Tent. They are pure rock and roll. Almost everyone was dancing super hard. And once they played my fave song, “Take It As It Comes,” it was all over! I loved their set and their energy.
I walked over to a Rub N Butt’s BBQ place while STS9 was playing and ate the best BBQ nachos I’ve ever had, they gave me life! STS9 did awesome. I can really only enjoy them live, because I enjoy the light show and watching their fans go crazy. But after a while, the music starts sounding the same to me.
I waited around for The Flaming Lips with high expectations. I had heard it was a good show, but I guess it requires you to be high or drunk, and I wasn’t neither. There were a bunch of inflatable characters with shiny coats, there were ton of lights, there was a light platform, there were lights, and there was “Realize.” But you know what didn’t show up? The big, transparent ball containing Wayne. That shit was nowhere near Wakarusa. And it was the only reason why I stayed until the end of that show. At least now I can say I’ve seen them live, even if they didn’t impress me.
After the lovely drive down the Pig Trail, I got to Mulberry Mountain, home to Waka for the next few days. I set up camp and jump right into signing people up for the bone marrow registry with Love Hope Strength.
I spent most of the time at the booth, but we’re super close to the Main Stage, so there was plenty of music. I took a break to go catch Black Joe Lewis, who was amazing. And then split to go catch Michael Franti. I was pretty close to the front, and when Franti came by the crowd I high-fived him. His show was incredible. I have seen him a few times already, and he always brings a renewed energy to the stage. The highlights of last night were a solo, acoustic start to “Sound Of Sunshine,” an unreleased song dedicated to his youngest son, and a DJ jam at the end that included songs like Pharrell’s “Happy.”
Franti’s son, Ade, has recently found out he has a disease (pardon me, but I forgot the name of it) that will eat away his kidney functions until they don’t work anymore. Here’s a bunch I good vibes to Ade. He’s a warrior!
After Franti’s set, I made my way to the Revival Tent where I caught the last few minutes of Moon Taxi’s set. I’m not very familiar with their music, but what I heard, I liked. I’ll have to looked them up when I get home, cause the most my 3G connection gives me here is the middle finger. I’m only able to write this post now, because I woke up with the sun and everyone is still sleeping.
So I’m going to Wakarusa this year, for the 5th consecutive year. But this year is going to be different in many ways: I don’t have a photo pass, so no going into the photo pit. And this year, I’m volunteering… so not all time will be mine to wander around the musical mountain. I’m volunteering with one of the festival’s 12 non-profit partners, the Love Hope Strength Foundation.
Two years ago at Wakarusa, I registered to be on the bone marrow donor list. Around that time, I had been learning about how minorities were so underrepresented on the registry. So when someone of an ethnic minority needs a transplant, his or her chances of finding a match are ridiculously low. So I decided to register. To make it short, last month I was contacted about being a match to a 20-year-old male with Severe Aplastic Anemia. I went through the additional testing and was confirmed as a match. I’m just waiting on the date to go donate. So that’s why this year I decided to volunteer to get some more Wakarusos on the registry.
I went over the lineup and schedule this week, so I know what sets I’m going to catch. I hope to send daily updates here, but if I don’t have a good connection, then it will just be on twitter and instagram.
I’m going to leave you with this completely unrelated (apart from the Summer theme) video from The Head and The Heart.
Here’s to all the storms skipping Wakarusa! (Seriously)
I’ve had “Little Lion Man” playing on repeat in my car for two days. I am not ashamed of disclosing that. And this morning, that song, and maybe the nice and humid morning drive to work, reminded me of the Mumford & Sons set at Wakarusa 2010 (aka the best lineup that Wakarusa has and, most likely, will ever have). Man, the memory of that show still makes me so happy. I watched the show alone after shooting the first three songs. I made my way to the front row and then… bliss. That was a nice crowd, everyone was letting me go in front of them when seeing how I was struggling to see over their heads (I’m 5’2″). This is what I wrote about the set:
The set began with “Sigh No More” and the crowd roared. It was the perfect set, balanced with beloved hits and new songs like “Bellow My Feet,” “Lover of the Light,” and “Lovers Eyes.” Bringing it to the grand closing with “The Cave.” I’m sure I wasn’t the only one on cloud nine at that point. I’m still smiling. I’m positive this set brought the biggest crowd to the main stage. Mumford, Winston, Lovett, and Dwane, along with other supporting musicians, did an excellent job that day. The intimate lyrics and their love for their music made the Wakarusa stop an unforgettable show.
I’ve made it clear that I am not a fan of lineup announcements break-downs. So, it is with great joy, that I present to you the final Wakarusa (Ozark, AR, June 5-8) lineup announcement. The other two headliners we were waiting for turned out to be The String Cheese Incident and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros (my inner hippie is already dancing, you know I love these guys). We also have some nice names down the list, like The Weeks and Black Joe Lewis. Here’s the 3rd installment for you:
I meant to post this last night, but then caught in between a tattoo session and making almond milk. True story.
The big announcement was yesterday, and it floored many people across the nation. This is the first appearance of The Black Keys and The Killers in any festival lineups this year (both faves of mine, btw) and we also have OutKast, which gave us the surprise of coming back with the Coachella announcement. The Hangout (Gulf Shores, AL, May 16-18) has had incredible lineups since it started, and this year is no exception.
The fact that Jack Johnson also showed up on this list made me hopeful, maybe he will come to Wakarusa or LouFest? I bet the surprise appearance he did last year at Bonnaroo (in-lieu of Mumford & Sons) made him want to go back to playing festivals. We have the last of three announcements of the Waka lineup this morning, so maybe I’ll get lucky.
Anyway, I leave with the awesomeness that is The Hangout Music Festival lineup: