My City, My Heart

 

I have lived in Las Vegas for more than a decade. I was not born here, but I fell in love with this place shortly after I moved here. This is my home. I choose to live here, and I am not sure I will ever leave. The last few days have been such a surreal experience that is tough to put into words. I want to have words for it, but I just cannot get there…yet. I know I’ve been sharing some sad songs, and while the sentiment I want to share now may seem sad, its more of a love for my home. When I say Home Means Nevada, I mean it. This post is an ode to my home.

“Home Means Nevada” as performed by The Killers

 

“Viva Las Vegas” as performed by The Killers

“Vegas Lights” by Panic! At The Disco

“A Shot at The Night” by The Killers

 

“Its Time” (and more) by Imagine Dragons

“I don’t ever want to let you down, I don’t ever want to leave this town, cuz after all the city never sleeps at night”

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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.

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?

New Music: Avalon Landing

November is a great month for movies and music in 2013. This week has already seen a new “Greatest Hits” release from The Killers, but the focus of this post is on another one of  Las Vegas’ own music treasures (by way of Buffalo, NY) Avalon Landing. I’ve been enjoying Avalon Landing for a while now, and have seen them a couple times opening up for another Vegas’ powerhouse, Imagine Dragons.

You may remember Avalon Landing, as I introduced you to them back in July. Over the past few months they’ve changed drummers, and have really increased their promotion of this new release.

Avalon Landing released their second full-length record Reside this Tuesday. The record has the same style as their first release Demo’s, Dead Ends & Do Overs” but the lyrics definitely show the maturation of the band. They have definitely expanded on their sound and this new album is a bit more polished and refined, which does the band well.

The first single off of Reside is “About Face”.

Avalon Landing has started to tour around a bit more, but currently only has dates listed for Las Vegas. I hope to catch them again soon.

You can listen to the whole record on SoundCloud.

I do hope that they become the next big band from Las Vegas, but as of right now there is a lot of tough competition for that title.

You will like them if you like: The Fray, One Republic, The Script.

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 2013

I learned about LouFest at the beginning of May this year, almost by accident. Walk The Moon posted on their fb page that they were adding LouFest to their Summer/Fall schedule, and that post showed up on my newsfeed. I hadn’t heard of LouFest before so I quickly googled it and looked at the awesome lineup (much more impressive than the Wakarusa 2013 lineup ever was to me).

This is fourth year for the two-day festival taking place at Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri on September 7-8. The lineup this year includes The Killers, Wilco, The National, Alabama Shakes, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Jim James, Local Natives, Fitz and the Tantrums, Trampled by Turtles, Walk the Moon, Ra Ra Riot, and The Lonely Biscuits (I looked up the Biscuits and they’re not what I expected! But that’s another post).

Of course, I got super excited the moment I saw The Killers, Alabama Shakes, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros in the same lineup. I immediately started looking for someone to go with me. I never thought of asking @DocMurda to come along, even though he’s one of the biggest fans of The Killers that I know, because… Las Vegas is pretty far from St. Louis. I thought of contacting local friends first. But I’m glad he was fb creeping at the time I was posting invites, because he quickly jumped at the opportunity to come along.

I can’t wait!