Ogden Twilight: Deerhunter & Washed Out

Summer Concerts

One of my favorite things about summertime is all of the amazing outdoor concerts. The music just hits different being outside. Standing in the grass, baking under the hot sun and hearing your favorite artists rock your socks off. If you didn’t already know, the Ogden Twilight Summer Concert Series is perhaps the best place in Utah to make your summer dreams a reality. They have shows almost every week and there is no place where you can see these caliber of bands for such an affordable price.

This past week was one of the most anticipated shows of the season with co-headliners Deerhunter and Washed Out.

Deerhunter

The amphitheater was still filling up when Deerhunter took the stage. The band members came out one by one as the crowd started to perk up. The lead singer, Bradford Cox, was the last one to take the stage. He walked out with a Japanese style sun umbrella and snow goggles. They opened with “Death in Midsummer” from their 2019 release Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?. It was incredibly fitting as the crowd roasted in the 90 degree weather. Bradford thanked the crowd and then opened the next song with, “this one goes out to all the homosexuals in Ogden.”

Over the next hour, Deerhunter jammed out 10 songs primarily from their latest release and their 2010 album Halcyon Digest. Bradford said, “we are not here to impress you, we are just here to play our music”. I was still very impressed as the band zoned in together and just played the music. They were relaxed and comfortable on stage. They switched instruments. Brought out a sax for a song and a violin for another. They ended with a 10 minute long rendition of “He would have Laughed” that was absolutely spectacular. Deerhunter brought their A-game and started the show off strong.

Washed Out

By the time Washed Out came out, the place was packed. The sun had set, cooling down the air and pampering the crowd for a party. The 3 musicians played around with synths, electric drums, guitars and laptops, while an entire set of coordinated visuals danced on the screen behind them. Their set was well mixed with new and old songs including some old crowd favorites “Get Up” and “New Theory”. Ernest Greene kept the crowd entertained and the energy levels high throughout the show. The audience members jumped around and sang along, enjoying the music and atmosphere. Washed Out’s set was perfect for a summer concert. The kept it fun and upbeat, creating a perfect vibe for an awesome summer night.

Up Next

Ogden Twilight Summer Concert Series continues this week with The Flaming Lips and The Growlers coming to town on Thursday July 18th. Salt Lake’s Twilight Series also starts up this week with Hippie Sabotage on Saturday. So get your friends together and get ready for an amazing weekend of outdoor concerts!

Vampire Weekend Should’ve Stayed Quiet

For the past couple years, Vampire Weekend has been pretty quiet. In May 2013 they released their 3rd studio album Modern Vampires Of The City. The album did particularly well and left the New York City based band at the top of the Indie Rock world. MVOTC debuted at #1 on the Billboard chart and won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album in 2014. As a fan, I particularly enjoyed this album and thought it was a step in the right direction for Vampire Weekend. I still vibe to “Diane Young”, “Unbelievers”, and countless others from the album.

The Departure of Rostam

In 2016, Vampire Weekend saw their first stage of turmoil when Rostam Batmanglij announced that he would be leaving the band. Although they insisted that they would continue to collaborate on future projects, I knew this was the end of Vampire Weekend as we knew them. As a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Rostam was a huge part of Vampire Weekend’s sound and they lost a tremendous talent with his departure.

Rostam Batmanglij
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

As the years passed, I mostly forgot about Vampire Weekend. In my mind, they were a band that came together, released 3 spectacular albums and then broke up. For me, that was enough. Bands can’t stay together forever. Artists need new projects and to move in new creative directions. I would rather that a band completely dissolve than start releasing music that would taint my perception of them. Unfortunately, Vampire Weekend did exactly what I feared.

Harmony Hall/2021

On January 24, 2019, Vampire Weekend broke their 6 year silence with the release of “Harmony Hall” and “2021”. These two singles will be featured on upcoming album Father Of The Bride that will be released later this year. “Harmony Hall” starts off with a quick moving acoustic guitar riff. At 40 seconds the vibe completely changes into an ultra poppy dance groove. The whole feel of the song just seems forced. It’s almost too uplifting. Too flowery. It lacks authenticity. It doesn’t seem like the Vampire Weekend I fell in love with. While they were never a really hard band, they seem to have lost any sense of rock they previously had. The song could fit in any generic Disney movie during a montage scene. There is a cute reference to their song “Finger Back” with the lyric “I don’t wanna live like this but I don’t want to die”. Aside from that there is nothing captivating about the track.

Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend
Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

“2021” is a short song, only 1:38, and features a sampled voice as a rhythmic element. It’s like they heard Bon Iver and James Blake using samples and thought it would be a good idea to throw it in. However, they don’t do anything innovative or even interesting. At least the song ends before the boredom consumes me.

How much for a ticket?

If you are wondering, Vampire Weekend is making a stop in Salt Lake City for their Father of the Bride tour. They are playing at the Complex on Oct. 6th and are charging $60 a ticket before fees. That’s right, $60! Well I probably won’t see you at the show. I’ll be at home wishing Vampire Weekend would’ve just stayed quiet.

Rate Your Music dot com

Too Much Music?

In the vast untamed world of 21st century music it can be easy to feel lost. There are more artists and genres than ever before, yet we are still on a never ending quest of finding new music. Being overloaded with options can make it hard to find music that truly speaks to us. Internet radio stations are spotty. Discover weekly playlists never seem to show us anything new. Is there anything out there, made for the user, to navigate the infinite possibilities of music?

Rate Your Music

Let me introduce to you rateyourmusic.com. As a music enthusiast, this is your one-stop website when it comes to all things music. Rate Your Music has several useful features from album reviews to ways of discovering new music. If you want to make the most out of your listening experience and improve your music knowledge in general, Rate Your Music is for you.

When the website pulls up you’ll notice tabs in the upper left hand corner and a search bar in the upper right. The home page also includes a reviews, latest ratings, and new releases section. These can be useful in finding new music but honestly I rarely use them because they eliminate the greatest feature of rate your music which is specificity of searches.

Searching

For your journalist, the most used feature is the search bar. You may notice a drop down menu inside the bar. This changes the parameters of your search. Since it defaults to “artists” you have to enter the bands name when entering a search. If you try to enter a song title or album name you most likely won’t find what you’re looking for. Once you do find the band, click on their name to take you to the artists’ page.

Artists’ page shows when/where they formed/disbanded, members years active and instruments (click on their name to take you to that persons page), other names for the band, and genres (click on the genre to get more information about it). As you scroll down you’ll see their entire discography with a rating beside it. Albums are rated out of 5. Anything above a 4 is extremely rare and above a 3 is strong. The rating shown is an average of all reviews which come from critics and fans. These are also subject to change as more people like or dislike the album over time. This is why I feel Rate Your Music does a better job at ranking music than any other music review site.

You can then click on the album title to take you to that page. On this page you’ll find general album information including its rank for the year it was released and overall (yes, this is a comprehensive list). The most used features I use to get a taste of the album are it’s rating, genres, and descriptors. You can then form your own opinion about the album but it’s nice to have a place to start.

Charts and Lists

…are a great way to discover new music. The charts page allows you to search the top rated albums, eps, etc. from a specific genre. You can limit your search to a certain decade or specific year. If there is an album I particularly like, I’ll look at its genre and check-out the related chart. This has allowed me to sort through some of the classic music of that genre, in order to find the best, as well as discover more unknown artists that are highly acclaimed.

The lists page can also be useful for finding new music. This is essentially a page where users can compile playlists of similar artists or “best of” lists, etc. There are lists such as “1001 albums you must hear before you die” and some more random like “Worst album covers of all time”.

I’ve only scratched the surface of all the features this website has to offer. Go check out rateyourmusic.com and leave a comment below to tell me what you think!

Caught in a Dream – Sales at In the Venue

No Vacation

I walk into In The Venue in Salt Lake City as No Vacation is walking on stage. The poorly lit room is already 75% full, but will soon fill up for the sold-out show. Their first song is an epic instrumental piece highlighted by a beautiful piano melody with soft cymbals played under mallets. No Vacation sets the scene for a dreamy night of live music.

Playing with 5 musicians, the Bedroom Pop band originally from San Francisco first got together in 2015. Their sound is light and airy. Their songs are simple and beautiful. Built with heavy reverb, No Vacation channels a shoegaze type tone. Their music makes you want to lie on a grassy hill and watch the clouds float by as you feel the breeze.

Despite the nearly packed house, the crowd resonates an abnormal silence after their applause. The lead singer and guitarist, Sabrina Mai, calls us respectful. A strange compliment to be given during a concert.

Near the end of their set, they play the song “August”. Following a brief keyboard introduction, a sample with a familiar voice saying, “Hello it’s me, Mario” wakes the crowd up from a musically induced coma. No Vacation puts on a fantastic show that last around 40 min. I personally enjoyed their set more than the headliner for the show.

Sales

By 9 o’clock the venue is completely packed. The sweltering August heat begins to make itself known. Sales’ music is lo-fi guitar pop. They are comprised of 2 guitarists and a drummer playing on half a drum-kit. Despite their minimalist sound, Sales play several songs that are straight-up jams. Hundreds of hipsters dance around doing their best to not touch anyone around them.

Singer and guitarist Lauren Morgan informs the audience that they have been doing this completely independent, without a record label or band manager. This causes the crowd to erupt and a small joy to spark inside me. It’s always awesome to see that some people are just in it for the music and nothing more.

Moreover, for one of the songs, the audience is asked to turn their flashlights on to set the mood. This instead lights up the entire room because the venue is so small. A man in the crowd carries around a 90’s style VHS recorder that I would love to see the footage of.

Sales play most of the songs I was looking forward to seeing including “Getting it on”, “Renee”, and “Pope is a Rockstar”. Morgan has a hauntingly beautiful voice as she often does this raspy whisper into the microphone. The guitar parts ring out in poignant sublimity. However, many of their songs sounds the same and leave me rather bored. Their final song was the first time I felt they showcased originality and this is mostly due to prolonged improvisation. Still, theirs and No Vacation’s sets made for a good night of music and dancing.

What’s On My Playlist: Indie Rock

I know finals are just around the corner, so if you’re stressed out here are a couple of my favorite songs to help calm you down and get ready to bullshit your way through some final project. If the playlist doesn’t help, you can always cry to the same songs on your way back to campus this summer.

“The Glow, Pt. 2”, The Microphones (2001)

“The Glow, Pt. 2” is the second song off the album of the same name and the continuation of “The Glow” from It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water (2000). Phil Elverum’s boyish voice sings of opening himself up to love and it blowing up in his face. He is now left to deal with his own mortality when he would rather curl up and die. The Microphones have a way of making me feel so small and insignificant, but they do so in the most beautiful way. The “my blood flows harshly” part is so haunting and intense and gives me chills every time.

“Oh Comely”, Neutral Milk Hotel (1998)

The longest track off the album In An Aeroplane Over the Sea, “Oh Comely” is a stirring ballad that is dark and slow. Most of the song is a single acoustic guitar and Jeff Mangum’s unpolished voice. The melody slowly rises multiple times before dropping back to the sullen guitar barely staying alive. The horns appearing near the end add an exquisite touch. Lyrically this song is so elegant, but its the non-lexical singing during the bridge and outro that leave me in tears as the song slows to a halt.

“Wasp Nest”, The National (2004)

The National begins their EP Cherry Tree with this simplistic beauty. Soft shaken bells jingle in the background giving the song an almost holiday feel, as if you’re riding in an open-sleigh. The graceful guitar riffs and deep lazy vocals create the most peaceful sound sculpture. This song just makes me want to cuddle up next to someone under a blanket sipping wine.

“Bad Diary Days”, Pedro The Lion (1998)

This track is so heartbreaking and gorgeous. The lyrics tell the story of a man figuring out his girlfriend has been cheating on him. Pedro The Lion creates a feel that is like “this sucks and hurts a lot… what do I do now?” Musically this song is not overly complex but the opening guitar note and intermediate riff are moody and alluring. The song slightly picks up in the last minute but retains its overall calm feel.

“Staring at the Sun (Demo)”, TV On The Radio (2004)

This is a bonus track from the album Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes with the full song appearing earlier on the record. Being just a demo, it is super lo-fi using little more than looped vocals. The song begins and is sung through the first verse. The loop suddenly stops, a couple words are muttered and they start the song over, using beatboxing to give it a stronger feel. Lead singer Tunde Adebimpe showcases his range with beautiful falsetto throughout the track. The simplicity and originality of this demo are excellent and leave me electrified.

“Still”, Volcano Choir (2009)

Volcano Choir formed in Wisconsin in 2005 as a collaborative project between the members of Collections of Colonies of Bees and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. “Still” is the re-recording of “Woods” from Bon Iver’s Blood Bank that was released earlier in 2009. This version features a full band as opposed to the Bon Iver’s version which is sung acapella. Long drawn out synths are accompanied by tiny glitches and little dings as Vernon sings the repeated moving phrase “I’m up in the woods, I’m down on my mind, I’m building a still, to slow down the time.” I’m can’t say this version is better than the original, but it is definitely worth a listen.

 

 

 

 

Tune-Yards’ Musical and Political Journey

In the beginning…

I first met Tune-Yards (tUnE-yArDs) in May 2014. I was in Bend, Oregon seeing one of my all-time favorite bands, The National. Because there isn’t much to do in Bend, I showed up at the outdoor amphitheater hours before they opened the gates. The venue was located along the banks of the Deschutes River and the Oregon May weather couldn’t have provided a better evening for an outdoor concert. I was about the 10th person in line which led to me standing front row dead-center.

When Merrill Garbus of opening act Tune-Yards took the stage, I fell in love. Flamboyantly dressed, with an asymmetrical haircut, and paint on her face, she was so unapologetically herself that it was hard not to. Her music matched her quirky style with such uniqueness that I had never heard the likes of. On stage, she played with a loop-pedal, a ukulele, and various percussion instruments. Rounding out the band was bassist Nate Brenner, back-up singers, and another percussionist.

Hailing from New England, Tune-Yards’ music is characterized as Art-Pop, Alternative-Dance, or Lo-Fi Indie. I still remember hearing songs such as “Gangsta”, “Bizness”, and “Water Fountain” for the first time. I have now heard them hundreds of times and they’re still awesome.

The music continues

On January 19th, 2018, Tune-Yards released their fourth album I can feel you creep into my private life. While I was slightly disappointed with this album, compared to their earlier work including W H O K I L L (2011), there are still several songs that capture my attention. Opening track “Heart Attack” is solid and starts the album off strong.

Lyrically this album is very political. Garbus explores what it means to be a white woman in our society, primarily the privileges she experiences because of her race. In recent years, she has engrossed herself in an anti-racist curriculum attending workshops and joining activist groups including Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). She seems to experience a tremendous amount of white guilt which is evident through the lyrics.

In the song “Coast to Coast”, Garbus sings, “the seeds are sown in small acts of violence… we let freedom ring, but whose freedom?” In “ABC 123” the theme continues, “I want so badly to be liked…I ask myself, ‘What should I do?’ but all I know is white centrality.” Of the song “Colonizer”, Garbus said, “I cringed all the way through making that song…I cried a lot too…I heard my voice speaking to a friend about this experience that I had in Kenya. A lot of people think that I’m making fun of another white woman in ‘Colonizer.’ No. This is me.” She sings, “I comb my white woman’s hair with a comb made especially, generally for me…I smell the blood in my voice.”

What white people listen to

In our society, essentially every music genre was pioneered by black Americans or influenced by music of the same roots. Some white musicians choose to completely ignore this as they sweep over fellow musicians collecting paychecks and Grammies. Other bands, like Tune-Yards, use their platform to highlight problems in society. While dance music might not be the greatest platform for these issues, it is what white people listen to.

Tune-Yards will be coming to Salt Lake on April 25th. They are playing live at the Depot with guest Brightest Diamond. The show is 21 and up and doors open at 7. Years after first hearing them, I am excited to re-experience Tune-Yards. This time headlining and performing in my home-state.

 

 

Dancing the Night Away with Passion Pit

Every so often I need a night of dancing, pressed against 1000 sweaty bodies, screaming lyrics into the air. You can imagine my excitement when I heard Passion Pit was playing at The Depot. I was in for a such a night and a memorable one at that.

Opening band Courtship did little to entice me. As soon as they took the stage I leaned over to a friend and whispered, “I’m probably not going to like this band.” I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it was just so tempting. Hailing from Hollywood, they were the embodiment of LA hipsters. 4 good-looking boys played unoriginal indie-pop, dressed in designer clothes made to look like they came from a thrift store.

The music was pompously poppy and portrayed the sense that everything is happy and magical. Songs seemed to lack depth and complexity. The crowd went crazy as they covered “Hey Ya” by Outkast. The guitarist, who was essentially a glorified hype man, told a story about seeing Passion Pit years ago and how it was a dream come true to open for them just one year after forming a band. Dreams aside, I couldn’t wait for them to finish their set and Passion Pit to take the stage.

When Passion Pit front man Michael Angelakos stepped into the light I knew we were in for a show. He has a tremendous amount of swag in his shirt and tie, casually undone and untucked. He is confident and relaxed with the crowd that is looking to unwind themselves. Eager anticipation sweeps over the audience as they wait for the music to begin. Passion Pit jumps into “I’ll Be Alright” and the crowd erupts. They know every word and boogie with the music.

Passion Pit is currently touring following the 2017 release of their fourth studio album Tremendous Sea of Love. Formed in 2007, the indietronica band from Cambridge, Massachusetts has known moderate success. Manners (2009) and Gossamer (2012) performed well both critically and commercially. While their most recent albums have been less well received, Passion Pit continues to make their mark in the electropop world.

The crowd helped carry the concert and made it special. Due to Angelakos’ singing style, the vocals are fairly quiet. The voices of 1000 others singing along amplify the music and fill the room. Their love and help is appreciated and expressed by Angelakos. He jokes that his voice was never that strong, but the always energetic crowds of Salt Lake do the work for him. Passion Pit played the hits for around 70 minutes, including, “Sleepyhead”, “Carried Away”, and “Lifted Up (1985)”. After a brief exit and chanting from the crowd, Passion Pit returned to the stage to play “Talk a Walk”, the cherry on top of the sundae.

Passion Pit put on a marvelous concert. Michael Angelakos was entertaining and got the crowd involved. The dance-heavy show didn’t drag on and tire out the fans. The sound quality at The Depot is always top-notch. At the end of the day there is nothing better than live music, especially when it’s as good as Passion Pit.

Octopus Project at Urban Lounge

Monday Night. In Utah, typically reserved for families, board games, and green Jell-O. For some they are better occupied listening to live music at Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City. Of course, I’ll choose the latter. Not too many people left their nieces and nephews on Jan 22 when The Octopus Project came to town. When I first walked in there were only about 10 other people, exactly the way I like it.

Intimate shows are the way to go. Small venues with the stage right in front of your face. No metal barriers dividing musicians and the audience.  This is how music should be played/watched. There are too many ultra-artists playing in those mega-domes and super-stadiums. And some guy payed $200 for him and his daughter to sit in section 317 row J. Anyway, enough with my rant. Back to the important stuff.

The first band was SLC natives Indigo Plateau. With two guitars, bass, drums, and vocals they have a pretty classic dream-pop/alt-rock sound. And they sound pretty good. Both guitarists use a variety of effects during song interludes creating a nice atmosphere. Their music doesn’t blow me away with originality but an altogether strong sound. They were a good opener, playing for about 30 minutes.

The second act was New Fumes from Dallas, TX. A single musician graced the stage. A guitar hung around their neck and was surrounded by a variety of electronic gismos and gadgets creating the rest of the music. The music was wildly experimental. The vocals were incomprehensible and drowned out by the sheer noise. You’d often loose sense of tempo and rhythm. It was on the verge of being something truly original and cool but wasn’t quite there.

Headlining the show was Octopus Project. I first heard about them through a friend just a few weeks prior. I looked them up on Spotify and really liked what I heard. They are an experimental neo-psychedelic band from Austin, TX with a noteworthy sound. On stage, they are incredibly talented. The four musicians move around from instrument to instrument, each playing multiple throughout their hour-long set. Three of them provide lead vocals on at least one song, but much of their music is instrumental. They seem to have a strong connection as a band and play off each other immaculately.

Octopus Project put it all into their performance. Band-member Josh Lambert opened the show saying, “I know it’s cold and it’s a Monday but let’s have a fucking awesome time together.”  And that we did. The crowd had grown considerably but was still sporadic. Nevertheless, people danced, whooped, and hollered. Yvonne Lambert played an electronic instrument called a Theremin, which is played without physical contact. All-in-all it was a delightful show with excellent music.

Music is often inspiring and can teach us important life lessons. But sometimes it doesn’t have a deeper meaning. Sometimes it’s just meant to be enjoyed. Seeing Octopus Project was a chance to simply enjoy some live music.