A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Folk

I cannot believe it is already March. 2014 is whizzing by. I am not going to lie, 2014 has started like 2013 ended…which for me, was no bueno. But, there are some really exciting things about it being March. 1)It is the birth month of @Begt. Which, lets be real, is probably the best thing about March…every year! 2)I am a big fan of college basketball and March Madness! For the first time in many years, it looks like the university that is a common part of all three authors of this blog’s history should be in the NCAA tournament (the University of Arkansas, for those interested). 3)March means amazing weather here in Vegas. So far, not disappointed. 4)One month closer to April, which means, one month closer to the LouFest lineup announcement and one month closer to the amazing shows that will take place at the Cosmopolitan here in Las Vegas in April and May (St. Lucia, Grouplove, Childish Gambino, Empire of the Sun, to name a few). And, 5)It is @Begt’s birthday in March!

With that said, this week I’ve been listening to two bands on a more regular basis than others (well, there are three that I am listening to, but my last entry focused on one of them…Haerts). Both of these bands have a “country” vibe to them, but are most definitely not what we would call “country” especially compared to what is popular in country music these days.

The first of these bands is The Lone Bellow. This Brooklyn based act released their first record, The Lone Bellow in 2013. This three piece is known for their high energy shows and their catchy lyrics. Their first album was produced by Charlie Peacock, who also has produced the Civil Wars. While similar to other modern folk acts (Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers), the Lone Bellow exudes a bit more “soul”.

The first song that caught my attention is the super catchy sing-along “Green Eyes & a Heart of Gold”

I am not going to lie, I also enjoy that there is a mandolin player as a part of this group.

The second of these bands is Delta Rae. This Durham, NC based “family band” is a bit more country than I want to acknowledge, but their songs have much more folk appeal. One of my favorite things about this band is, as @Begt knows I am a fan of, all the members sing. While only 3 seem to take lead singing roles, you can hear the different voices on their various tracks. Delta Rae is composed of 6 members, with three of them being siblings (when you watch their videos, it is pretty easy to tell who is related). Delta Rae released their first record, Carry the Fire in 2012 and are currently working on a new full-length release as a follow up to their “Chasing Twisters” EP released at the end of last year.

And because I am enjoying this band so much right now, I give you two songs. The first, “If I Loved You” (ft. Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac)

And, “Dance in the Graveyards”, which is the song that got me hooked:

You will like both bands if you like: Churchill, The Civil Wars, Fleetwood Mac, The Lumineers.

Love & Music

On Thursday a simple post on Facebook sparked a bit of sadness for at least two of the authors here on Sandy Beats. It was announced that one of the members of The Mowgli’s, Michael V was leaving the band. While the entire band is involved in the music making process, Michael was one of the founders of the band, and had writing credits on most if not all of their songs. @Begt and I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Michael and LouFest. He was such a super positive and down to earth guy. He was just hanging out alone watching the same band we were watching. When we approached him, he was shocked that we even recognized him for the Mowgli’s performance earlier that day (how could you not, that performance was incredible). I am not one for assuming why people leave bands or bands break up. Fortunately, I think Michael made it very clear with his video and statement posted to The Collective CA.

“I wish you all an incredible journey and I pray that in moving forward we will always remember ‘why we came here’ and apply that wisdom to every aspect of our existence.

For me, it’s not enough to just say it, or sing it.  I need to live it and breathe it, and be it    . . . and in the beautiful irony of this tale, the only way I can take the proper steps toward making such drastic life improvements, is to actually follow the advice and mantra in our songs.”

You can watch the video below:

I hope that he goes on to make music that spreads the love. I hope that he shares the music with the world, and I know I’d really enjoy seeing him again.

And here is my favorite song by Michael during his tenure with the Mowgli’s… “Time”.

A Film Photo Set: LouFest 2013

I got my film back from the lab! I’m so excited to show you the photos from LouFest. @DocMurda has done a wonderful job at reviewing the sets we were able to catch, so I won’t go into so much detail. I already told you why I fell in love with this festival, so now I’ll let you see what I caught on camera. I took my LC-A+ camera (film) because having a DSLR was on the list of prohibited items for the fest. I wanted to bring my DSLR, but I didn’t want to deal with any kind of rejection at the gate, so I opted for film.

I attempted to do several multiple exposures to capture the awesomeness of the fest. Some worked, some didn’t. But I’ll let you be the judge of that. Click on the photos for the large version and captions.

Saturday at LouFest was hot and awesome. We didn’t stay until late that day (that is correct, we missed Wilco, but we have no regrets). This day we started out with Jukebox The Ghost, which was an amazing set to start out the weekend. I’ve been listening to these guys in the weeks that have followed the festival and I can tell you that I am a fan now. Next up was Modoc at the BMI Stage, but I sincerely don’t remember these guys. I feel a little bad about that, but I think I was just really hungry and dehydrated. The only thing I remember happening between this set and Trampled by Turtles was some carne asada tacos from the Mission Taco Joint stand. I didn’t even go to the main stage for TbT, but listened to them from the shaded spot under one of the trees at the BMI Stage, where we caught up with Space Capone. I think I had higher expectations for these guys, because their set at LouFest didn’t make a huge impression. We left their set early to get up close during the Fitz And The Tantrums set, which was amazing. They never let down, they have great chemistry on stage and that spills over to the crowd. The first time I saw them was a couple of years ago at Wakarusa, after @DocMurda suggested I checked them out. They recently released their sophomore album, More Than Just a Dream. They played a great mixed of songs from both of their albums, but “Money Grabber” from Picking Up The Pieces was my favorite from the set. The last full set we caught on Saturday was Desert Noises, which had been recommended by @DocMurda. Those guys have great music, but they got a lot to grow when it comes to stage presence. This was specially evident after coming from the Fitz And The Tantrums set. We walked around the festival grounds while The National was playing and left a little before they finished the set.

Sunday at LouFest started out rainy, but it cleared out just in time for the music. We were ready to see The Mowgli’s, which delivered and amazing set that just set the tone for the whole day. This day was really all about the music. The second set of the day for us was Youngblood Hawke, which kept up with the SoCal sound we had going with The Mowgli’s. There was SO MUCH DANCING, and it was still early in the day so there weren’t huge crowds at the stages. That would very soon change, as we found out.  By the time we got to the stage for WALK THE MOON (which was 45 min early) there was already a large amount of folks up front. The set was worth the wait, as the dancing and singing along continued. I am definitely driving 2 hours to Tulsa to catch them in October (and I’m so excited that I will get to see The Mowgli’s again, as they are opening that night!) We listened to Local Natives from under a tree at the BMI stage. My favorite “Airplanes” came toward the end of their set, which sounded awesome. Wild Cub followed at the BMI stage. I find their sound very mature, and I like that about them. It’s refreshing. We danced our way to the main stage to the sound of “I Love It” by Icona Pop, which was finishing their set on the other side of the festival. At the main stage we caught Alabama Shakes, which are even more awesome live than I had imagined. Brittany Howard has a voice that makes you go “DAMN, WOMAN!” We left shortly after they played their hit “Hold On” to find a good spot for Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros. But it looked like about a third of the folks at the main stage had the same idea. So many people. And so many of them smoking. That, however, didn’t come in between us and our inner hippie dancing. But then again, we had to leave the set early to get to the main stage for the final act of the night and the highlight of the festival: The Killers. It was my first time at one of their concerts, and I think it could have been a lot better than it was. You see, it wasn’t the music. That part was amazing. The Killers really killed it. But by that time of the night there were just so many drunk jerks around, that I had to get further from the stage or I would have gotten Salvadoran-aggressive on a tall DB that was in front of me when the set started. I am looking forward to a much better experience with The Killers at Life Is Beautiful in Las Vegas in a month.

I will leave you with this Icona Pop video. Just because I want to. That song got in my head the nano-second I mentioned it on this post. So now, I will get it in your head. I don’t care, I love it. I hope you enjoyed the photos. I think I will make it a tradition to take a film camera to any music festival, even if I also take my digital if I get a photo pass.

LouFest Wrap-Up Part 2

So for the first post I blamed my post LouFest honeymoon. The delay for this second post is due to my body telling me to go to sleep instead of writing blog posts. My body won every night this week, except for this one! (Checkmate nature).

Day 2 of LouFest was epic. I am not one to use this word lightly…or even really at all, but I cannot find any adjectives that will accurately describe the way that I feel about Sunday. We started off with rain that cleared up moments before the first set. @Begt, Jennifer and I sat in the car (literally across the street from the entrance) and waited for the storm to blow over.

So, without any order, except for number one being number one, here is my Top 5 LouFest moments from Sunday:

5a) We entered onto the LouFest grounds just as the rain slowed to a drizzle. @Begt had convinced us that the band to see first thing was the Mowgli’s. I’d been listening to the other Sunday opener a bit, but maybe it was the rain, the pre-funking, or the universe commanded it, but that first set from the Mowgli’s set the standard for the day. This Southern California based 8 member band is a mix of sunshine, the beach, sparkles and love. Their energy from the first song all the way through their hit “San Francisco” was absolutely contagious. They immediately connected with the crowd through their poppy, loved filled jams. They have an Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros feel about them, but they are their own breed of band. They are touring throughout the US this fall with WALK THE MOON and others. If you can, you owe it to yourself to see them perform.

5b) The second show of the day was another SoCal based group, Youngblood Hawke. if you own a radio, you’ve most likely heard their catchy anthem “We Come Running”. This band also played with incredible energy and had the crowd on their feet and dancing in the muggy early afternoon. I had enjoyed “We Come Running”, but now consider myself a fan. My favorite performance from them was “Forever”. Here is an acoustic version of the song.

4) Like Day 1, there were a lot of bands that were either right before or right after a band I really wanted to see. This was the case with the Nashville based Wild Cub. This band was a SXSW fan favorite and have been hitting up various festivals all summer. Their set took place right before the Alabama Shakes. We had already been hanging out by this stage because much of the surrounding area was tree covered and we wanted to rest while listening to Local Natives. I had listened to a few Wild Cub tracks before, and was pretty impressed. This group put on a hell of a show. Some of their tunes sound like they could have been composed in 1985 but with a contemporary flair. I am really looking forward to hearing more from them in the future. They have a few festival shows this fall, but I am sure they will be back on tour once the weather gets nicer. Enjoy their “hit” Thunder Clatter:

3) If loving hippie makes me a hippie, call me a damn hippie. After seeing Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros in July, I’ve been anxiously awaiting seeing them at LouFest. Literally the only complaint I have about LouFest is that they scheduled ESM0’s to perform immediately before the Killers. This meant that if I wanted to get a good spot for the Killers I’d have to leave ESM0’s early. This was not a good position to be in. But, it had to be done because…its the Killers…the greatest American Rock Band of my generation (you can take that to the bank my friends because that statement is as true as gold is valuable). They started off their set with my two favorite ESM0’s songs “Man on Fire” and “That’s Whats Up”. As a kid decked out in UNLV gear, I was dancing like a hippie because ESM0’s are just that good. Alex was also a bit more aware of his surroundings than he appeared to be in Las Vegas.

2) About a month after first seeing Imagine Dragons live in 2010, we started listening to the Imagine Dragons Pandora station with religious fervor. One of the songs that frequented this station was from a quirky quartet from Cincinnati, OH. Having a band name that is written in all caps may seem presumptuous, but when you are WALK THE MOON you can do whatever the hell you want. This may just have been the best set of the entire festival. They rocked out on most of their catalog including “Next in Line”, “Tightrope” and the incredibly catchy “Anna Sun”, which had the entire crowd screaming. What little of my voice I had left after this show was lost after the Killers. This band is touring with the Mowglis this fall, they shouldn’t be missed.

1) This weekend could not have ended on a better note. If you’ve read this blog at all you know how I feel about Las Vegas’ own The Killers. From the moment I saw the black and white Nevada flag on the main-stage just before the first show on Sunday, all the way through their set, I was ecstatic for this set. The set was filled with many of their most popular songs, and started out with “Mr. Brightside” and included a version of “I Think We’re Alone Now” made famous by Tiffany. In true Vegas fashion the show concluded with one hell of a pyrotechnic show during “When You Were Young”. I was thrilled to see the Killers again, and am looking forward to seeing them again next month at Life is Beautiful here in Las Vegas.

Well St. Louis, you definitely captured my heart this time. Will I attend LouFest next year, you ask? Yes, yes I will.

Why I Loved LouFest

I’ve been to a few music festivals. The one that is most familiar to me is Wakarusa, since it’s only about 1 hour or so from my house. From every festival I’ve attended, I have a list of things I wished were different, things that would make the festival better. And it was as if someone read my mind and put together a festival out of that… and bam, there was LouFest.

It really was one of the best fests I’ve been to. I’m already on the list to buy early-bird tickets next year.

I had never been to St. Louis before last week, when I made the 5 hour drive to meet @DocMurda and Jenn for LouFest 2013. We had time to go around the city on Friday and were able to find several amazing food spots, in addition to confirming that the Stratosphere in Vegas is a taller than the Gateway Arch. We stopped by LouFest’s home, Forrest Park, which amazed me. It’s so huge. And it’s home to the amazing St. Louis Art Museum (which is free!) But back to LouFest, here are the reasons why I fell in love with it:

1. The lineup: Man, what an awesome lineup. It was the reason why I bought the ticket. The Killers, WALK THE MOON, The National, Local Natives, Alabama Shakes, Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros, Fitz And The Tantrums, Youngblood Hawke, and the rest of the awesome bands that LouFest introduced me to, like The Mowgli’s, Jukebox The Ghost, Desert Noises, Wild Cub, etc.

2. The size: LouFest was the perfect size. I didn’t get any blisters walking from one stage to the other, no one passed out with a heatstroke, the stages were so accessible it was ridiculous. Big shout-out to the organizers, because everything was so well coordinated. It ran so smooth. Even the water station was extra efficient. No big lines for anything, and if there were big lines, they ran quickly.

3. The food: The festival’s food vendors were all local restaurants with super delicious options. No funnel cakes to be found. It was pretty awesome. My faves were the carne asada tacos from Mission Taco Joint and the sweet corn from the Atomic Cowboy. YUM.

Bonus points: No trash, only recycle bins of several kinds and clean portable toilets.

What I didn’t love hated: People smoking everywhere. Seriously, you guys, here are some helpful links for you.

I’m waiting on my film to develop (I’m not kidding) and then I’ll show you the awesomeness and tell you about my favorite music sets. I’ll leave you with a few phone photos.

LouFest Wrap-Up: Top 10 Favorite Moments from LouFest Part 1

Admittedly, I am still very much in the LouFest honeymoon stage. The festival ended 6 days ago, but it was my first, and I loved every single moment of it. We had heat, humidity, rain downpours and the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen outside of the desert and the mountains of Colorado. I could go on for days about the non-music reasons I enjoyed the festival, but that is not what you are here for. So, without further delay, here are my Top 10 Favorite Moments from LouFest (split up into Top 5 of each day).

Saturday:

On Friday night after a day of sightseeing, @begt and I determined which of the bands we didn’t spend much time researching, that we were going to see. There were a few times we changed our minds, and I don’t think either of us regretted the choices we made.

5) We started off the day and festival completely on the right foot. We had both listened to the two acts opening up the festival before, but only really briefly. One of the bands, Kentucky Knife Fight had appealed to me due to their bluegrass influences. They are a local St. Louis band. The other band with an opening set on Saturday was Jukebox the Ghost from Brooklyn, NY. After listening to a coupe of their songs on Friday night (after a few drinks) we decided to go with Jukebox the Ghost…and I was not disappointed. Their set was high energy from the first note. This 3 piece is a mix of Queen, Ben Folds Five and the Fray with a side of Brooklyn Hipster. From my personal favorite song (after purchasing their newest record Safe Travels) “Adulthood” to the catchy relationship woes filled “Oh, Emily” the band kept the energy through the roof. They even ripped out an amazing version of “Somebody to Love” from Queen. Not many artists can sing that song well, lead singer and keys player Ben, did an incredible job. They ended their set with their most popular song, “Somebody” from Safe Travels. 

4) I didn’t get to catch much of the set of this next band (as I went early to the set mentioned in #2), but we had to take a break from the heat and watched the band Modoc under the trees at the BMI stage. This Nashville based band has a very powerful sound and occasionally breakout a bit of a Southern rock sound. I hope that this band comes out west soon so that I can see a full set.

3) One of the bands that I was excited to see that was unknown to me before the LouFest lineup, is Utah based Desert Noises. These guys played about halfway through the day on the smallest stage of the event. The stage setup was very idyllic with an open back and a beautiful view of the trees of Forest Park. These four guys look to be about 20 years old each, but have a very mature sound. I feel that  their name is very representative of their music as I can think of few bands who would go as well as these guys when driving through the expansive deserts of Utah and Nevada.

About halfway through their set, Kyle, the lead singer looks out into the crowd and says to the audience “This is good…this is good right?”. I hope he realized just how good their set was.

I have a feeling that these guys are just beginning a long career. They just wrapped up a tour across the US, but I am sure they will head back out on the road soon. Check out the haunting “I Won’t See You”.

2) As mentioned in #4, I had to leave the Modoc set early. The reason I left that set early was to head to the main stage to prepare myself for Trampled By Turtles. When finding out about LouFest I was so excited that TBT was playing the festival. I’ve been listening to this band for a couple years, and really wanted to see them live. They don’t travel a lot to the western US, so I was very happy to catch them here. I went to this set alone, as @begt and Jennifer (aka the comedian) needed some more time to lay around…but I met a delightful couple from Peoria, IL who had seen TBT on a couple different occasions. Trampled by Turtles did not disappoint. This Duluth, MN based band keeps  their energy high and makes sure that each member gets to showcase their skill. I was very excited as I’ve not seen a live mandolin player since starting to play one myself. The TBT mandolin player is quite good, and at one point the fiddler brought out a mandolin and the two of them were getting down.

They played many of their hits including “Victory”, “Whisky”, “Wait So Long” and they finished their set with my personal favorite, “Alone”.

1) There is really no contest about the best show of the day on Saturday. I first heard this band when playing around on our Roku  while watching music videos on the one of the many music video channels. Their sound is unlike any other group I’ve heard. I was bummed slightly as they played Las Vegas the day we left for St. Louis, and it would have been great to see them twice in the same week, but I believe that I will have many opportunities to see them. What is the band you ask? None other than Los Angeles  own Fitz & the Tantrums. I was blown away by their performance. They have so much energy and they know exactly how to get the crowd into the show. Other than the National and Wilco, this was the biggest crowd I saw at any performance. FATT is one of those groups that sounds better live. Their recorded stuff is great, and definitely gives a feel for the band, but they should be enjoyed live and in person.

From LouFest (not taken by me) “Out of My League”

And “MoneyGrabber”

Stay tuned from my wrap up from Sunday. I am still processing the amazingness that was Sunday at LouFest.

LouFest Spotlight: The Mowgli’s

Meet The Mowgli’s. One of the bands I have discovered thanks to LouFest‘s awesomeness. Learning about the band is giving me flashbacks to @DocMurda’s description of a hipster band, although I wouldn’t call them that. The Mowgli’s are an eight-piece alternative rock band from southern California. Their sound is easy and the harmonies remind me a lot of Family of the Year.

They have only one album, Waiting For The Dawn, which is very much worth the listen. They play LouFest on Sunday at the same time that The Lonely Biscuits do. Oh, schedule conflicts, what would we do without them. Oh yeah, enjoy all the awesome music! I’m going to try to see these guys and gal.

The will be touring with WALK THE MOON this Fall.

Other songs to check out are “Emily,” “Love is Easy,” “Say It, Just Say It,” and the title track “Waiting For The Dawn.”

LouFest Spotlight: The Killers

I would be remiss if I didn’t include the Killers in our discussion of LouFest. I realize that the Killers are in fact, one of the most well known American bands in the world. From what I’ve been able to gather from other media outlets and European music mags, the Killers may be the biggest American band in the world. This does not stop them from being one of my most favorite bands, and the band I am most looking forward to performing at LouFest. The Killers are the Sunday headliner for LouFest (Saturday is Wilco).

There are very few bands that exist on my “must see live” list and my concert “bucket list”. The Killers are atop both of those lists. I do admit that seeing them live in Las Vegas probably differs from seeing them in other locations, but lead singer Brandon Flowers has a genuine charisma that I’ve not seen from any other lead singer (including the charismatic likes of Rob Thomas and Adam Levine).

I saw them late last year when they returned to their hometown of Las Vegas for a set of shows to close out 2012. In my life their are few times when I’ve been so ill that I could barely walk…their December 29th show was one such day. Unless I was in a hospital, I was not going to miss this show. I had been waiting for years to see them live…and when I did, it was magic.

LouFest will be the second time I see them live, and the third time will come next month when they headline Vegas’ own Life is Beautiful Festival.

The Killers were formed in Las Vegas in 2001. They’ve released four studio albums, with the most recent in 2012, Battle Born.

I am sure their festival set may differ from their set from the most recent “Battle Born” tour. However, I know every song they play will be amazing.

One of my favorite songs from Day and Age, “Spaceman”:

As @begt already has seen, The Killers have on occasion while in the UK performed my most favorite song of all time. Both Flowers and  band co-founder Dave Keuning are admittedly huge Oasis fans… “Don’t Look Back in Anger” performed by the Killers:

When I saw the Killers in December, they started the show with a song not often performed live since the tour of the same name. “Sam’s Town” will always mean Las Vegas to me no matter where I live. For the first three years I lived here, I could see Sam’s Town (a local casino) from my house. When this started playing this song, my sick self started shaking.

I cannot post this without sharing my favorite Killers song (one of my top 5 favorite songs, now you know two), which is also from Sam’s Town, “Read My Mind”.

 

LouFest Spotlight: The Lonely Biscuits

Here at Sandy Beats, we’re super excited for LouFest.

This time next week, two-thirds of Sandy Beats will reunite to enjoy this awesome festival. @DocMurda has done a great job of researching the bands in preparation, but I haven’t. So I decided to do a little YouTube research on some bands today. I present to you, The Lonely Biscuits (I’m not gonna lie, I am a fan of the band’s name)

They’re a fairly new band, forming in 2011 while the guys attended Belmont University in Nashville. Their music is a blend of soul, funk, pop, and rap. Good luck trying to fit them into one genre.


LouFest Spotlight: WALK THE MOON

Cincinnati, OH based WALK THE MOON is the band I am most looking forward to seeing at LouFest who I’ve not seen live before(tied with Trampled by Turtles). I first heard this band in 2010 thanks to the Imagine Dragons radio station on Pandora. Despite being on the same Pandora station, I would not necessarily say that these two bands sound alike. They both have a flair for the poppy synthesizers and energetic performances, but their music sounds very different. Formed in 2008 with their current lineup finalized in 2010, WALK THE MOON scored their first big hit with the anthem “Anna Sun” in 2011. Esquire magazine even named the song the song of the summer in 2011. They didn’t receive much airplay on the song until 2012 and have since had another single chart in the US, “Tightrope”.

I really cannot wait to hear “Anna Sun” live and most likely lose my voice. If you haven’t heard the song before (you’ve been living under a rock). Their videos are pretty “artsy” and this one definitely fits the bill. Apparently, the video is full of friends and family of the band.

I believe that this video was inspired by this scene from the amazingly funny BBC show “The IT Crowd“. Its on Netflix if you’ve not seen it.

Back to WALK THE MOON…last summer the band made 7 music videos in 7 days while on tour. My favorite song of this bunch is “Next in Line”. For having no budget, no time, and few resources, I think they did a pretty good job with these videos.

LouFest cannot come soon enough.