Album Review: Science Fiction by Brand New

As a long time fan of the rock/emo band, Brand New, I was more than ecstatic to find out about the release of their fifth (and most likely final) album, Science Fiction. Even though Brand New released a few singles before the official release of Science Fiction, it would be the band’s first new album in 8 years since Daisy, which was released in 2009.

As Brand New is known for, there was little marketing or press before Science Fiction’s release date, which definitely caught a lot of us off-guard when the album finally came out. But even with their minimalistic approach to marketing, they still managed to reach #1 on Top Album Sales for the week of September 9, 2017 on billboard.com

So, without further ado, here is my track-by-track review of some of my favorite songs from the poignant and solemn, Science Fiction.

1) Lit Me Up 

The song starts off with an eerie vintage recording of a therapy session where a woman retells a dream. It then fades into a minimal instrumental that beautifully highlight’s Jesse Lacey’s vocals and lyrics. Although many of the tracks on this album are vague in their meaning, “Lit Me Up” arguably has a theme of awakening.

To me, “Lit Me Up” tells the story of someone who has become numb to themselves and the world around them, until some sort of catalyst awakens them and reignites their passion for life, or presumably anything else they’ve become dull to.

“Lit Me Up” is a perfect entrance to the album; it sets the tone and beautifully leads into the next track.

2) Can’t Get It Out

“Can’t Get It Out” begins with crisp guitar strums and a more high-paced rhythm, but it’s certainly not more uplifting in terms of lyrical content. Ironically, that seems to be the message of the song.

There’s speculation that the song is about Lacey’s own musical history. Many of his songs aren’t considered to be happy or positive by listeners. And with the lyrics “I’ve got a positive message, sometimes I can’t get it out,” it seems that Lacey (or the song’s subject) struggles with an internal conflict of not being able to effectively communicate their true intentions or emotions.

3) Waste

Moody, heavy, and low can best describe the album’s third track, “Waste.” While it’s not my favorite song off the record, it definitely serves a purpose. It’s almost a paperweight or anchor in between the rock and roll style of “Can’t Get It Out,” and the light and dreamy aura of “Could Never Be Heaven.”

The lyrics are about self-destruction, being at your lowest point, and trying to piece yourself back together again. Lacey sings “And maybe one day, you’ll find your way, to climb on up out of your grave, with the bits of you you managed to save…”

4) Could Never Be Heaven

This might be one of my favorite songs from Science Fiction. It’s melodic, airy, and heavenly to listen to. However, there’s something compelling about Lacey’s voice and the warm harmonies in the song that grips the listener.

“Could Never Be Heaven” is also one of the more difficult songs to decode lyrically. While I’m not certain of what the song is about, there are strong motifs of death, heaven, water, religion, and love.

There’s also a strange vintage recording at the end of the song that discusses what it means to be truly authentic in your individuality, or if the act of trying to be an individual hinders that authenticity. It’s hard to say if this excerpt is connected to “Could Never Be Heaven,” but it sure does add an obscure and thought-provoking impact on the song.

5) Same Logic / Teeth

“Same Logic / Teeth” brings back the loud and emotional side that Brand New is typically known for. The song discusses self-destruction, guilt, self-loathing, and manipulation. Even though the topic’s dark, there’s something in the song that resonates with all of us to some extent.

6) 137

Instrumentally, “137” isn’t very exciting at the beginning. However, the sparse sounds emphasize the lyrics, which are the primary focus of the song. “137” seems to be a portrayal of nuclear war with the lyrics of the first chorus being: “Let’s all go play Nagasaki, we can all get vaporized, hold my hand let’s turn to ash, I’ll see you on the other side.”  

The song also ends with a loud cacophony of sounds which is presumably an audio metaphor for the chaos and distress of a nuclear disaster.

(137 is assumed to be a reference to the radioactive isotope Caesium-137)

 

7) Out of Mana

“Out of Mana” was the first song I heard from Science Fiction, and it definitely ties the most into the album’s title. The guitars on this track are immediately distorted and heavy. This, combined with the catchy chorus and unconventional lyrics had me replaying this song for days.

“Out of Mana” heavily references technology and video games in the lyrics and title. While this might just be the band having fun with obscure topics, I think there might be a deeper meaning that connects overcoming challenges digitally with overcoming challenges in real life. Either way, the song is still a thrill to listen to.

11) 451

3 second into “451” and you’ll surely be nodding your head and tapping your toes along with it. The song is rhythmic, up-beat, and intense. “451”, along with “Could Never Be Heaven” are most likely my top 2 favorites of the album. It’s a perfect song to play in the car with sunglasses on and the windows rolled down.

However, after scouring my mind and the internet, there doesn’t seem to be any clear answer to what the song means. The lyrics “A million suns won’t fill you up if you can’t see the wine flowing over your cup.” discusses being unsatisfied with more than enough, and the title “451” is assumed to be a reference to  Ray Bradbury’s novel Fareinheight 451.

 

 

Album Review – “american dream” by LCD Soundsystem

With Arcade Fire’s attempt to capture the dance floor meeting a divisive audience this summer, it seems only right James Murphy and co. would resurrect LCD Soundsystem from the dead to remind us why they’re king. Unlike Arcade Fire, who only began to experiment with disco in full on their previous album Reflektor (which Murphy helped produce), disco has been part of LCD’s lifeblood since its inception, mixed in a potent cocktail with Murphy’s New Age influences.

But with seven years having passed since LCD’s last album, This Is Happening, you can’t blame someone for wondering if the band can still walk the walk. Rest assured, LCD’s latest release, american dream, is another step forward for the band; it may not be their most confident step forward, but contrary to Murphy’s singing on “how do you sleep”, there are no six steps back to be found on this album.

Even when LCD is taking a step forward, however, Murphy can’t help but look back. In fact, rather than back away from his influences, he doubles down on them in american dream; you’d be forgiven for thinking Robert Fripp had taken over the guitar on the track “change yr mind”, and “other voices” sounds like a discarded track from Talking Head’s Remain in Light. While these accentuated influences are a welcome addition to LCD’s sound, in the case of “other voices” and “change yr mind”, they risk overpowering the band’s own character.

While it would be a stretch to call the two tracks derivative, it’s hard not to see them as the weaker efforts on the album when LCD exceeds in the implementation of Murphy’s influences almost everywhere else. The penultimate track “emotional haircut” is the band’s best utilization of his punk influences to date, building up a raucous finale almost unmatched by any of the band’s previous work, and “call the police”, while maybe one of the best odes to David Bowie ever written (with its oblique reference to the artist’s stay in Berlin), stands on its own as a soaring anthem. “We don’t waste time with love,” Murphy bellows on the chorus, “It’s just death from above.” It’s the kind of gloomy chorus only LCD could make catchy.

When Murphy isn’t overtly looking to the past for inspiration, he pushes the band forward with some of their best music. Sitting in the middle of american dream‘s tracklisting, “how do you sleep” encapsulates LCD’s ability to do more with less. The song lurches forward, seemingly holding back the weight of its own momentum, and when the dance beat finally kicks in, it’s bliss. Equally intoxicating is “tonite”, although its hook, a wet-sounding bass, loses its immediate appeal by the end of the track.

Between tracks like “tonite” and “other voices”, there’s a considerable breadth of music on american dream (which shouldn’t be surprising given that Murphy had about seven years to write the musical ideas that inevitably came to his head). This breadth both bolsters and weakens the album. While it may not have the flow of Sound of Silver’s tracklisting, american dream rewards for demonstrating a band pushing its limits.

Pushing limits makes it hard to land on one’s feet steadily, but LCD Soundsystem, without a doubt, is back on the dance floor, taking one step forward, and two looks back at the sounds that inspire them.

 

A TWILIGHT ZONE: Joshy Soul / The Roots

A Twilight Zone, the chronicling of Salt Lake City denizens looking for music, adventure, & life at the Twilight Concert Series

Nick

The final show in the 30th Annual Twilight Concert Series. With news that there is no funding in the city art councils budget for Twilight next year, this may very well be the last Twilight Concert ever. Take my breath away and find it in the palm of your hand. DJ Scratchmo was the first act of the night. He played “Footsteps in the Dark” by The Isley Brothers, and then he played “It Was a Good Day” by Ice Cube, which samples “Footsteps in the Dark.”

I like it when DJs play songs that I recognize and vibe to. It serves two purposes: it makes me feel like I have good taste in music because the DJ’splaying songs I listen to. It also functions as a catalyst for making me like that particular DJ even more.

The next set was by Joshy Soul & the Cool. At this point, there was news that Charles Bradley had canceled. Despite the bad news, however, Joshy Soul put on quite the groovy set. Their original takes on popular songs made this Jazzy cover band very entertaining to listen to. I would either hear a melody or lyrics to
a song I recognized and that would catch my attention.The fact that they opened with a swing band cover of “Flashing Lights by Kanye West. By the end of their set, they had proved themselves to be one of if not the best local band featured at Twilight this year. Though they were not playing original songs, their original takes and overall connection and synchronization as a band made them very successful when it came to entertaining the crowd.

The Roots played next, one by one the band showcased all it was capable of. A breathtaking bass solo by Mark Kelley. Jeremy Ellis played a beat box solo that knocked my socks off. My socks were completely off for the remainder of the show. Black Thought spat some killer bars and Tuba Goulding Jr. did the tuba justice. Questlove, behind the drums, was wearing a dope shirt with a Pac-Man ghost and  doughnuts on it.

 

After they did a cover of “Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns & Roses, the guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas turned out a solo that really made the crowd go wild.  This band is the epitome of soul. They really got the crowd moving, one man did two back flips. Looking back, I looked back at myself, while I was doing this I caught a glimpse of my left eye out of the corner of my right one. I saw what looked like me, looking sideways at myself. I was there looking at me and we decided to look away and gaze over at yours truly, I am still stuck like this now. The Roots took us back to before we were born. The Roots really brought us down to earth, and then into it. The show they put on was a truly wonderful experience.

 

Martyn

Finality is a strange event. An ending. Absolution. Maybe we’ve all learned something by the end of the perhaps final Twilight Concert Series and what would that have been? That the sun hates music and has some really nasty intentions when harping on concert goers? Questions will be deferred for another time while I reflect on how this, the final show brought to a culmination a seven week’s journey. From Little Dragon to The Roots, the experience has been solitary, inclusive, stressful, wonderful, and awakening all in seven weeks’ time.

The beginning of the night started per usual, albeit much less crowded and anxious for the opening band to begin. DJ Scratchmo held the crowd over a solid block of time, remixing classic hip-hop tracks and making the atmosphere come alive. The amount of people differed from previous shows, but perhaps that was only because one of the acts was not able to make it, leaving open a space to be filled.

Filled it was with the inclusion of Joshy Soul & the Cool. Local heroes of the funk scene in Salt Lake City, the band absolutely deserved the spotlight of opening for the main act. I’ve seen a few of the members playing in different projects throughout the city and the way the excellence of each musician added to the whole, with the main objective of fun. The crowd went wild for the fast songs and listened with intent to the slower ones. Joshy Soul himself is an immaculate performer, dedicated to giving the crowd an all-encompassing good time. After some fine solos from the saxophone player, the guitarist, and the drummer, Josh Soul & the Cool ended their set with nothing but good vibes.

I found myself holding a few too many bags of free chips (they were free) when The Roots were announced by the roar of the crowd. Pioneer Park was once again packed. Filled to the fences of fans and fun. With almost all space being accounted for, The Roots started playing, introducing themselves, going full on F U N K to the max. Someone led me through the throng of persons to the front of the stage, closer than I’d been at the others. With so much arbitrary shoving, I was forced to fling the chips into the crowd along with beachballs and hats and other items lacking enough importance to keep held. The Roots played magnificently as expected. Highlights include a solo by sampler Stro Elliot moving his fingers with rapid and deft precision across his board. There was never a lack of intense joy throughout the entire set.

And like that Twilight was over. It was a fine night. I became lost once again in a place familiar and strange. Some gossip suggests this would be the last Twilight Concert Series. I suppose its a possibility. But uncertainty can also be a very beautiful thing. Farewell and good night.

 

The Freedom of Music

Concerts on the first day of school have a sentimental meaning for me. When I first started school at the U, I moved into the dorms on a Thursday. That night, I journeyed to Pioneer Park with a couple of classmates. Kid Cudi would perform in what was the most attended Twilight Concert to date.

I remember how incredible I felt that day. For the first time in my life, I experienced true freedom. Freedom to stay out as late as I want. Freedom to go to a rap concert singing songs about marijuana. Freedom to be me, whoever that was. I had no idea what lie ahead of me that year, yet I was ready to accept the consequences of my own decisions.

4 years later in 2017, on the first day of school, the day of the solar eclipse, I journeyed downtown again. This time the venue was a little smaller, the artist had a little less hype, but that same feeling persisted. Washed Out was playing with Dega at the Depot.

The Depot is one of my favorite venues is Utah. They sell tickets at the door on Fridays prior to the show, eliminating the always dreaded service fees. Security works quickly and effectively. The venue stays relatively cool and has appropriate seating for those who want to sit. The sound is not overbearing but clear. The doors opened at 7. Dega started playing at 8 and Washed Out at 9:30.

Dega set the stage for an awesome show. Their set up included various synthesizers, a couple of microphones, a guitar, bass, and a computer with drum backing tracks. Both musicians played a variety of the instruments and added vocals. They did what all openers should do, get the crowd excited for the show.

Washed Out, aka Ernest Greene, is on tour following his June release Mister Mellow, a psychedelic chillwave album that explores stonerism and the monotony of life. The entire album has a coordinated visual music video designed to create a psychedelic or trippy experience for the viewer.

Washed Out played several songs off of his latest release as well as some older crowd favorites. The entire show was set with timed light cues and different projections on a screen behind the musicians. Washed Out truly personified his sound. He danced around like a lazy stoner lost in the music. Greene’s enchanting vocals gave the impression of daydreaming. The crowd fell under his spell and swayed along for what could have been 30 minutes or 3 hours.

This concert meant more to me than just the music. It represented a new school year, a new opportunity. I’m not sure who I’ll be at the end of it and I’m not sure exactly how I’ll get there.  Although I am filled with uncertainty, here’s to one more year. Another year of concerts. Another year of school. A couple more late nights in the library and weekends downtown. A few more friends made and hopefully a couple less lost. Whatever happens, music will help me get through.

 

A TWILIGHT ZONE: Talia Keys / Handsome Family / Andrew Bird

A Twilight Zone, the chronicling of Salt Lake City denizens looking for music, adventure, & life at the Twilight Concert Series

Nick

You know how as a tree gets taller the roots get deeper? Take a slip of paper and write down five words that describe what it feels like to float and then take two of these and call me in the morning. Hop on into the back of what we call a “hatchback” and drive till you cover it’s bumper in stickers. I’m talking about all that space from coast to coast. I’m talking about bluegrass and a soft summer night.

The Twilight Concert series is 30 years in the making; the only time I ever spent 30 years doing something, I was holding up two cups to the sky and waiting for it to rain. The opening act was Talia Keys and The Love. When Talia sang she used such full power and emotion. The band’s set had exquisitely groovy elements and quite the eclectic flare. So how? Take a look in the mirror and wonder what if. Onto the stage next came The Handsome Family, the married couple plays somber bass, heavy roots rock. In between the songs, they made some hilariously irreverent jokes. In regards to the song “Weightless Again”, singer/electric banjo/electric ukulele player Rennie Sparks said that this song is a suicide note but she never could finish it. Remarking that if you want to kill yourself in the Redwood Forest, that’s a good litmus test for depression. She also joked that the song “Far From Any Road” was originally the theme song for Sanford and Sons and then the theme song for Herbie The Love Bug before it was the theme song for the HBO crime drama True DetectiveSinger/guitarist Brett Sparks has a deep grave voice that could settle the high seas. The Handsome Family vanished and Andrew Bird appeared on the stage. Sans accompaniment, he played the violin and whistled a fine tune. At this point, his band appeared on stage alongside him. Blinded by light, I began to be taken on a folk-pop journey through the cosmos of my mind. A man in straps told me that I needed to dance. He whisked his partner away in one sweep. Before I knew it, I was waltzing on the dirt as it changed into a barnyard ballroom with a chandelier made of quartz. Andrew began to shred on the violin sending shivers down my spine. I spun the night away and unraveled myself into the crowd. my blue jeans turned into fine noir threads and I tasted freedom. Andrew Bird spoke volumes through his lyrics and sang with real passion. Overall a very good show.

Tristan

Summer nights in Salt Lake City are always an invitation for a fantastic night, especially in one Pioneer Park on a calm Thursday night. Salt Lake City’s Twilight Concert Series is a great opportunity to relax, enjoy great company, and jam out to some of your favorite bands. Although this is true of every Twilight Concert, there have been none like this.

The night opened with a performance by Talia Keys, an excellently structured first set for the night. Her raspy voice mixed in with upbeat various instruments accompanying her got the crowd in the mood to move and dance (even though it might not have been the best decision for some (“cough, me, cough”). Her lyrics often depicted the innocence we all shared growing up, but this innocence is being described by such a powerful and well-structured group. The irony of being told to always strive for liberation and freedom by a group who obviously slaves over the perfection of their craft only added to the incredible music being played.

Up next was The Handsome Family, the power duo from Chicago. To hear Rennie and Brett Spark’s voice separately would lead you to expect their tones to clash greatly, as I did when they first entered the stage. Although when they sang together it was very apparent why they were there. The two sang slow and strong with the aid of a bass, a guitar and a little harmonica here and there creating this folky sound, unique to just the two. For never hearing of the group prior, I was pleasantly surprised of the music they played

Alright, now for the grand finale, Andrew Bird. Those who were shopping put down their items, those talking with friends and family quieted, and those using the convenience of the oh-so lovely Honey Buckets quickly ran out in haste. This was a band that could not only grab the audience’s attention, they were able to captivate the crowd. The blues, mixed with indie, mixed with folk, mixed with bliss was enough to make even the shyest sway back and forth to the push and pull of the violinist’s bow. Andrew Bird and his fellow musicians brought this crowd of bruting teenagers together with good-hearted, well structured, and in my opinion, brilliant music. The diversity of music being played by one band was almost overwhelming. This was hands down the best Twilight performance I have attended this year. Such diversity only begs the question, is there anything they cannot do?

Martyn

Five shows into the Twilight series and it has begun to feel like the ultimate tentpoles of summer. Good or less than great, each show has brought a capstone to a hot, often aimless summer week since the end of July. So this night, feeling the slow burn finishing towards an ending, I entered in through the familiar gates, passing off a more than familiar greeting to the attendants and stepped into Twilight number six.

The local opener Talia Keys and the Love brought energy to the crowd immediately with long, funky songs of empowerment. As a local band, I had seen their moniker around here and there but had never the opportunity to see the band live. Through numerous thanks to Andrew Bird, their songs approached levels of fun without intensity. The sounds livened the crowd into dancing which spread out across the park in clear definition of the term “good-vibes”. Talia and each member of the Love played with a gracious confidence in what beheld the beauty of the local opener’s importance.

After the first set, I sat calmly eating pizza within the sponsor area (once again) whilst unbeknownst to myself, someone sent me photos of myself eating, replying on my phone, watching some birds. My thoughts were, as if this whole writing and observation through subjective tendencies couldn’t get meta enough, but now I had to see myself within a process. Luckily, The Handsome Family came on stage, upsetting the stream of pictures by playing alt-folk songs of solitude and pensiveness. I realized much too late to be hyped that it was that Handsome Family but I enjoyed the music nonetheless. Country is an often overlooked genre unless it delves into the classic sense of real roots country, which is what the band did. Their set was short and ultimately sweet. 

By the time the sun had set, Andrew Bird came out alone and whistled, plucked his violin, and greeted the crowd in a dapper white suit jacket. His band played wonderfully some classic alt-rock sounding songs and his voice bellowed out across the night sky with restrained passion. I was sure the likenening to Rufus Wainwright has been made to Mr. Bird, but his voice crept along the same lines. I was unfortunate to not stay for the entire set, but I weaved through the crowd, larger than anticipated towards the outside. I felt mixtures of anticipation for the last show in a week, I felt penultimate to the extreme.

A TWILIGHT ZONE: Belle Jewel / Phoebe Bridgers / Cat Power

A Twilight Zone, the chronicling of Salt Lake City denizens looking for music, adventure, & life at the Twilight Concert Series

Sarah

I’ll admit, I wasn’t too excited for this week’s Twilight Concert. I didn’t know many of the acts, and the rest of my colleagues and I had been racing across military level obstacle courses since 7 am that morning (a compelling story for another time). However, this concert turned out to be one of my favorite Twilight experiences so far.

The first act was a girl named Belle Jewel. The first thing I noticed was her striking resemblance to the indie-pop singer, Bishop BriggsBelle sported circular glasses, space buns, and white overalls over a black shirt. The set was pretty simple; vocals and an acoustic guitar or keyboard, but her voice was extremely relaxing and beautiful.

Up next was Phoebe Bridgersa female indie-folk singer from California. Her set was nice, and like Belle Jewel, the songs were relaxed and helped to set the tone for Cat Power. However, I noticed thatthis Twilight concert had a much different feel compared to the previous show where Solange headlined. All of the acts had a maximum of 2 people on stage, and the songs seemed to be more focused lyrically compared to instrumentally. While it certainly wasn’t the concert to go crazy at, it was a nice change of pace for the Twilight concerts and provided a calm atmosphere to sit down and listen to some good music.

Finally, Cat Power took the stage to play a solo set with her piano and guitar. My friend and lovely DJ here at K-UTE, Tristan, and I sat down to talk and enjoy the show. We both immediately fell in love with her voice. It was heartfelt, vulnerable, and powerful all at the same time. Occasionally she would stop to apologize to the crowd for a technical difficulty or if she thought her vocals sounded off, but the crowd wasn’t having it. They applauded and begged her to keep going regardless of any mishaps because she sounded beautiful either way.

Martyn

And suddenly, it was another Thursday night speeding across the city to one of the most unexpected Twilight concerts. Cat Powers appearance was being touted as “(solo)” for weeks now and it piqued the interest of more than a few concert goers beforehand as to how Charlyn Marie Marshall (aka Cat Power) would fare filling up the usual park. It wasn’t so much a question of audible loudness, but the energy that came from the previous acts.

I arrived more than a few minutes late, missing out on Utah native Belle Jewel although hearing that she performed a nice acoustic set minutes before my estimated time of arrival. Apologies to her performance. I meandered inconspicuously, wondering about the previous few Thursdays, how they began becoming this culmination of the week’s events. It was also taco night in the sponsor tent, and again, lanyards grant immeasurable access. Events seemed fleeting, the sun set earlier than usual, and I readied myself for the processing of thought whilst watching a performing act.

Minutes after this awfully meta cognition covering some tired questions, Phoebe Bridgers came out onstage accompanied by her self-named friend from Los Angeles (he had recently moved). Phoebe was predominantly playing an acoustic while her newly-planted LA friend played electric guitar. It gave her a fuller sound than the regular acoustic pieces the crowd had heard with Belle Jewel. The songs were a genuinely nice fit for the rest of the evening. Only because the music was quieter, in this sense of instrumentation, the set does not disregard the level of affection from the crowd. Belle Jewel’s set went through endearingly nice banter with the crowd and this created a sense of intimacy that went beyond the usual venue accommodations for the distance between performer and audience. While many of the songs had a similar appeal, the performance managed to help set the mood for the headliner. It was also her birthday, but that could have been self-proclaimed hearsay.

Cat Power came out quietly under the purple lights and immediately began playing. Her soulful voice carried around the park, now late-night summer dark, creating a new Twilight Concert atmosphere. It was quiet, and it was less rushed than previous concerts. Cat Power played song after song, without the need or apparent want to elicit cheers from the crowd with banter or anecdotes. The whole solo aspect was immediately apparent, but Cat Power held the attention of onlookers by her talent for guitar playing and lyrics. Not necessarily lethargic but inherently laid back was the theme of the night. A break from the heat and rushing crowd of past weeks. I found myself walking out of the park, greeted by night and noise awash the background voice of this singer.

Photos by Morgan Parent 

A TWILIGHT ZONE: CHOiCE / Kaytranada / Solange

A Twilight Zone, the chronicling of Salt Lake City denizens looking for music, adventure, & life at the Twilight Concert Series

Josh

Another Thursday night in the late summer means another edition of the Twilight Concert Series. This week the curators of the series managed to book modern R&B hero, Solange. The attendance was dense and eager for the show. The tension built with the news that Solange’s flight was delayed. A quick check of her Instagram story showed her still on a plane from Texas at about 9:30 pm. It wasn’t clear when they landed of whether or not her band and crew were also delayed. At about 10:05 pm it was announced that Solange had arrived and would be starting soon.

The audience moved closer as the set began. The band took the stage first. All of the members were dressed in red. Their attire matched the background of the stage, which included a large red circle piece in the background that appeared three-dimensional when the stage lights created shadows. This monochromatic theme put the visual emphasis more on the musicians and their movements.

Enter Solange. The crowd goes wild as she displays her subtle finesse in both her dance moves and her opening vocalizations.

The entire set consisted of artistic coordinated dance moves that varied with each song. In one instance the group lined up from tallest to shortest and continued to move the song along with hip swings and a smooth 80’s funk style “keytar” bass line. The audio side of things was delightfully crisp with amalgamations of genres including funk, jazz, R&B, hip hop, soul, and disco.

The band kept the audio effects to the minimum and as a result, the audience got a transparent wave of warm sonic bliss. I could pick out any instrument and enjoy focusing on its subtle nuances. The drummer was especially precise and smooth as he moved back and forth between a drum machine sample pad and his acoustic kit.

If I had to sum up the performance in one phrase, I would say it was like a combination of Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense and a killer episode of Soul Train. Solange, like many modern artists, draws heavily from artists of yesteryear. However, the influences do not cross over into simple reactionary territory. Her work makes me excited for the future of music in general. Give her a listen; her work is worth much more than just the novelty of being Beyonce’s sister.

Sarah

As a music, theatre, and art lover, I have a special fondness of musicians who incorporate striking visuals and dramatic performances into their live shows. Solange is a prime example of this.

Everything was a bright and energetic red as Solange entered the stage to perform “Rise,” the first song off of her album A Seat at the Table. The song is simple and repetitive, which are words most artists don’t want associated with their songs, but in Solange’s case, the term “simple and repetitive” is a good thing. Her songs tend to be more poetic and intentionally repetitive to add to the meaning of the song itself, which is something not a lot of musicians can pull off elegantly.

Another thing that stood out to me about Solange was her soft and almost whispery vocals. However, while her voice may be soft, her lyrics are anything but. They’re powerful, political, and heartfelt. I rarely cry at concerts, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed a few tears while listening to her perform “Cranes in the Sky,” with lyrics like: “I tried to drink it away, I tried to put one in the air, I tried to dance it away, I tried to change it with my hair.”

While professional photos weren’t permitted during Solange’s performance, the stage was quite a sight to see. The background was bright crimson with a reflective red circle in the center. Everyone, including the band, wore a red outfit, adding to the vibe of the show. While I’m not quite sure why the color was chosen, to me it felt powerful. It also certainly commanded the attention of the crowd.

Geoff

Twilight. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to leave that big of a concert unconcerned about missing the headliner, and yet, there I was.

I heard a lot of hype about KAYTRANADA and honestly, I couldn’t have cared less. Awesome, another hip-hop producer. As if the thousands living in their parents’ basement wasn’t enough, they decided to put this guy on stage. What’s he going to do? Spend 30 minutes making a track for someone not to rap over? I was there for Solange.

After the admittedly solid DJ Choice finished her set, everyone seemed to be ready to explode for KAYTRANADA. These are my peers, other K-UTE DJs who definitely have decent taste, so maybe I should hear this dude out.

When he came on stage it felt like a crowd formed immediately. We wiggled our way into the middle and proceeded to jam for the next three hours as KAYTRANADA stood at his laptop bobbing his head. While he might not have been the best stage performer I’ve ever seen, the music was something else.

I don’t quite know how to put my experience into words, but here’s my best shot: His beats connected with me on a primal level as if despite its synthetic nature this was somehow going back to the music of my ancient ancestors. His vibe and groove seemed to hypnotize me and rest of the crowd. I danced, screamed, and at one point raised my middle finger and said “I don’t give a fuck!” all at his command. Motion was effort less, and somewhere a deep feeling of content arose within me. I was putty in KAYTRANADA’s hands, my actions corresponding to the buttons on his keyboard.

Unfortunately, a Station Manager’s work is never done and when I finally broke away something had changed in me. As I packed up our booth and lugged it back to the van I felt sad, I couldn’t focus on the music, now it was just a background track. When I heard the rumor that Solange was coming, just very late, I didn’t care. I had already gotten what I needed from this Twilight, my legs are tired. I’ve been up since 7, let’s go home.

Martyn

So there I was again, mingling amongst the Twilight crowd for the fourth time this year, not really knowing where to go at the moment or really if there was a where in which to go to. Suffice to say, perplexed‘. The crowd had grown massive in quantity of bodies compared to a few hours ago. Something about this concert. The mystique maybe? Solange‘s appeal? Either way, the first DJ, CHOiCE gave the crowd something to mingle and drink drinks and talk of probably hugely important affairs with one another. The rhythms were even throughout as if this DJ chose not to take choosy chances with more austere or different beats. Mostly it was the drums. Mostly, I felt as though I should wander over to the free food.

The free food being farther than I thought, I wandered blindly through the crowd (also known as the inevitable and incomparable smoke in my eyes and also I’m very short) until Kaytranada began his set. I watched from afar, eating pizza with a friend. This being the largest Twilight crowd so far (waiting with a stone’s patience for the delayed headliner) was a sight to see from far away. A mass of bodies, pushing out the parameters of fences and personal space to watch Kaytranada hover over his laptop. The visuals on the background movie theater screen were deftly impressive, moving from live action dancing to the swirl of incandescent warm colors in a kaleidoscopic swirl of a post-Y2K hypnotist. The Crowd (uppercased now in all its glory) felt strongly for Kaytranada, dancing, swaying, pulsing single hands attached to arms moving vertically in a calm frenzy of limber strength. An angel of a human next to me told me that this artist had played two of his favorite songs, “At All’ and “girl” which was produced for The Internet. People were blown away and the spirit of Twilight lived on.

Solange finally made her appearance after a few delays, bequeathing the stage and the crowd by dressing all in red with a lusciously red stage and accompanying dancers. She started slow and rose to a wonderful climax of music heard throughout the city. The noise ordinance was really disregarded for the best of reasons. Once again, after the music, after the sweat, and stress and noise and bumping into people, I had enough and awoke the next morning in this weird stupor.

 

Photos by Trevor Von Hake @trevorvonhake and Sarah Nelson @sarahnelson208

What’s What on SoundCloud

Hello friends. Welcome back to “What’s What on SoundCloud”! The following are some of the noteworthy tracks I’ve been listening to recently and feel that you should be listening to as well.

This week’s artist spotlight: Sam Gellaitry and KAYTRANADA

Sam Gellaitry is an electronic music producer out of Scotland who found his success on Soundcloud thanks in part to the underground music conglomerate, Soulection Radio. With goofy synth leads, quirky jazz chord progressions, and an overarching cinematic feel that invokes a sense of nostalgia, Sam G is one of my favorite artists to date.  After he tweeted “gonna release all this stuff I’ve been sitting on in the next couple of days” last week, I knew we were in for a treat.

If you listen to only one song from this blog post, “want u 2” should be the one. The instrumentation on this track is incredibly well executed. Gellaitry knows how to create compelling syncopated melodies that leave you with no option but to nod along with the beat in satisfaction. Whether you’re at a huge party or listening on your own in your room, this groovy track is sure to please your ears and your soul.

“Pyrotechnic” is a little more quirky. Sam is super liberal with the chops, creating a sense of anticipation as you wait for the beat to come back in after it cuts out. He slaps this track in the face with his distinct eccentric style. If you haven’t given Gellaitry’s discography a listen, I highly recommend it.

To conclude this week’s discovery, I’m throwing it back to 2014. “At All” is, without a doubt, my favorite Kaytranada track of all time. This funk-house banger is the perfect thing to listen to on a late night drive around town, or really any time you just want to dance. Kaytranada’s distinct bass lines and combination of bump and groove give this track the perfect balance between the funk of yesterday and the house music of today.