Boombox Cartel Takes Over The Sky SLC Dance Floor With Their Unique Trap Beats

Hailing from Mexico, the duo of Boombox Cartel, aka. Jorge Medina and Americo Garcia, have been making waves and taking names for the last few years; including putting on a stunning performance on the main stage at Ultra Music Festival in Miami, FL. Earlier this year, the duo took a hiatus. However, they don’t call it a comeback, saying ‘The Cartel never left…’ They exploded into 2017 with their release “Jefe” and have been taking dance floors by storm ever since!

The first time I saw these two live was at Foam Wonderland 2016 in Salt Lake City, UT, where they opened up for Brillz and Borgeous. I had never heard of this duo before, but they took me away by storm when I heard their first drop. I knew that these two had potential and that they were going to get huge in the EDM world… and I was right! With that being said, I had an incredible chance to talk with Amerigo, himself, and chat about his love for music and how the cartel all came to be!

Amerigo and Jorge are both Mexico-based while Amerigo was first born in South Texas, then moving down to Monterrey in Mexico, where he and Jorge first met and attended middle school, high school, and even college! It was shortly after when Amerigo and Jorge moved up to Minneapolis, Minnesota to attend music school, where they then joined forces and decided to make music together. However, Jorge does not have an American visa, so he cannot perform at shows in the states just yet, but all of that is currently in the works.

They decided to name themselves ‘Boombox Cartel’ because it was just a bunch of stoner music kids creating ideas. “They were all like, ‘you guys make music, y’all are like a boombox and then you two are from Mexico, y’all are like the cartels’”, says Amerigo from Boombox Cartel. “It was super dumb but we stuck with it and decided to make music under that name!”

After the ‘Boombox Cartel’ was named, Amerigo and Jorge started sending their music to everyone: blogs, DJ’s, other producers, etc. along with spreading the word locally. “All of a sudden, our music became international,” says Amerigo. “You just have to start small – be passionate about your art keep pushing your limits!”

Ever since then, the boys have been headlining shows since 2012, and then states that it is easy to headline your own show. “You just make music and put it out, and eventually, you will get booked,” says Amerigo. “Headlining shows is fun – it doesn’t matter what time your set is or even who you are, it’s just all about the music.”

Boombox Cartel has recently released their latest EP, Cartel, where it consists of a group of work of two-and-a-half years! Amerigo says to imagine fifty songs and then having to eliminate forty-five of them. “It wasn’t hard to narrow it down, however, because there were ones that stood out and felt the best,” says Amerigo.

Amerigo then states that his favorite song off the Cartel EP would be “Phoenix”. “It doesn’t consist of just the drop, like what you usually hear in most EDM music,” says Amerigo. “It’s just a song that takes you somewhere! It’s also very fun to listen to, not just in a club, but at home or basically anywhere.”

Crucial Quest: Day 2

The K-UTE writing staff ventures to this year’s 7th annual Crucial Fest in a quest to discover new artists and experience a festival like no other in downtown SLC.

Morgan C.

There’s a certain pride one feels whilst taking part in a local made event such as Crucialfest. This Utah created and sustained event does nothing short of give back to everyone involved. With a killer line-up of local and touring bands, Crucialfest 7 has arrived once again to give Salt Lake’s people a loud and lively week of musical chaos and energized performances to look forward to.

That being said, the week is an exciting one with several after dark shows kicking off the crucial-week at participating venues Metro Music Hall and Urban Lounge (which happen to be just a couple of favorite local venues in the SLC music scene) and the main two-day event taking place at the Gateway.  The second day into the main event I was able to catch a couple of shows earlier in the day, including, The Flatliners, a punk band straight from the Ontario Canada ska/punk scene with catchy melodies carrying classic punk sound construction and gritty yells alternating simple chord progression.

But, ultimately my Crucial quest led me back to the outdoor setup later in the evening, and as I approached the Slug stage, Pinback was beginning to set up their equipment. Perfect, since they were on the agenda to see for the evening.

I’ve met quite a few ‘Pinnies’ as I like to call them- Long-time fans of Pinback. People who get it, people who pick-up the musical messages the band is putting down. Because of these encounters, I was pleased to check out the group first hand myself. Not being a prior fan, the first thing I noticed was how there was two guitarist taking main stage, and how they appeared to be playing the same chords in the same pattern at the same time. However, I then heard the combined vocals of lead and co-lead singers, Rob Crow and Zach Smith, in which I began to see the effective use of two leads. The gentle voice of Rob Crow breathed somewhat meaningful lyrics over-energized instrumentals, while the vibrating tones of duel vocals danced on the jangly combination of drums and strings creating a hypnotic harmony which contributed to the continuous flow of melody, and I can see why so many ‘Pinnies’ give praise to this feel-good band.

Next up was Built to Spill a group from our neighbors in Boise. They hardly need an introduction considering they’ve been playing since the early 90’s with a fan base that has been listening just as long. Now, that’s not to say that they aren’t capturing the attention of new fans. As the instrument-driven band began to play it was apparent they were pulling the biggest crowd i’d seen in hours. Guitar riffs soared through the air piercing our ears with vibrant sound waves that quivered over steady basslines and drums, and the understated vocals echoed along giving a vintage feel reminiscent of the good vibes at Woodstock.

The last performance of the night was by headliner group the Growlers, and the Cali grown 7-piece group did not disappoint. The entire performance oozed a groovy aesthetic with the lead singer wearing a painfully cool printed collar shirt strutting around purring catchy lyrics tied to the string of wailing sounds being emitted by the whole lot of garage-rock dudes.

The vocals alone lived up to the band’s name as pithy one-liners like “drinking the juice” and “If your heart thinks I’m a crock of shit, then I’ll follow it” were growled towards the audience. The unrefined vocals and sounds of multiple instruments produced a fun raw sound akin to other popular garage rock groups such as the Hives and Hot Hot Heat for an exhilarating performance that acted as a bid goodbye to the super fun fest. Till next year!

 

Morgan P.

Not to be cheesy or anything, but this fest is crucial for our salty city. This was the seventh Crucial Fest and first one to be so large. SLC is too often overlooked as a music hub but in recent years there has been more attention directed here and it’s events like this that makes that happen.

Rolling up to The Gateway later in the day felt so comfortable and nostalgic, sending me back a few years to when I would take Trax down with a friend just to window shop and hang out in the city. It’s really cool to see how the mall has changed over the years although it is bittersweet to see the shops that have gone. However, the unique use of space for music and community events is a novel idea that I hope continues in the future.

After a spontaneous trip to Wyoming, I, unfortunately, missed a few of the opening bands but after being at the venue all day on Saturday, I couldn’t really feel too bad. The first item of business: finding a spot to set up camp so the K-UTE crew and company would have a place to hang out in between sets. We found two chairs on the turf between the Rye and Graywhale tents and never had less than three people sitting together enjoying the late summer day and stellar music.

The Flatliners were the first band on when I got there and although I’d never listened to them before, but their old school style punk rock sound made my inner riot grrrl way too happy.

POS was the next artist up and I wasn’t particularly interested in this performance until I saw the huge crowd that had gathered but were facing away from the stage. It took me a second to realize Stefon Alexander was standing on the stairs next to the SLUG Stage. I wandered over to see what was up just in time for him to be in the center of the crowd absolutely commandeering the energy. Everyone watching was so intently INTO the show that even people who probably wouldn’t have normally come over were expanding the crowd even further.

The indie rock vibes that seemed to dominate the lineup continued when Minus The Bear took the stage. For me, this performance wasn’t as much about seeing the band as it was hearing the music exist as background sound while walking through all different groups of people, checking out the art gallery, and relaxing under the trees. I was quite pleased with the mix of songs they chose to play what with their newest album, VOIDS, having come out in March.

As far as the second day goes, Built To Spill is who I was looking forward to most. Carry The Zero had come up on my Spotify discover playlist a few weeks prior and quickly found its way onto frequent rotation within my own playlists. I’ll admit that I don’t have any sort of vast knowledge on the rest of their songs but that didn’t make seeing them live any less special. Contrary to the popular belief that you have to know every word and riff to every song by a band before the band even knows they’re a band — you don’t. It is possible to like a band even if you only know one song; who would’ve guessed?! After all, there is simply too much music in the world to go that in depth with every artist.

Finally, headliners, The Growlers took the main stage and immediately began belting out their signature sound of beach goth vibes. Having grown in popularity at an immense pace over the last decade, The Growlers showed their finesse. The band shifted between songs from their discography with personal favorites “Chinese Fountain” and “Someday” receiving the love treatment. The crowd was going wild for it. Most Growler songs keep it poppy within the requisite three to four-minute song length, but on stage, the band took each song into the stratosphere, stretching out the catch guitar riffs and general fun for much longer. Fantastic renditions permeated the end of the night. Because now Crucial Fest was completed. A fabulous four days of music and energy. Seeing the festival growing was a spectacle in of itself and I can’t wait to see what happens next year!

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.

 

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

A TWILIGHT ZONE: 90’s Television/Whitney/Kurt Vile & the Violators

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

Josh

A local happening, a local enigma, a local band is taking the opening slot for this concert. That band you ask? 90’s Television. An enduring sun hits the stage as the group grabs their instruments. A crowd of early arrivers crawls from the shadows towards the front of the stage. It’s a diverse group of slimy monstrosities: cyborgs, mutants, weirdos, voidoids. It’s an amalgamation of sunglasses, tank tops, and scaly skin recently burned by the salty city sun.

A groovy wave hits the crowd as the group opens a cold one with their classic tune “Radio 90s”. Oooweewoowee, now that’s what I call a hair splitting specter. The group appears to be locking the crowd into an unknown form of hypnosis using their powers combined. Drummer Jeremy Devine (known robot) mines unseen rhythmic crystals that are channeled by the guitars of both Greydon Benzmiller (resident wizard) and lead singer Dravland Brown (vampire spirit, incarnate). Dravland and Greydon send the harvested power into the hands of their trusted bassist, Craig (a friendly martian). Meanwhile, Craig’s head starts to become swollen with the kinetic energy of the group’s power pop inventions.

No momentum is lost as they power through classics like “Bug Girl” and new innovations like “Karmakazi”. As Craig’s head grows, the crowd becomes weary of what might become of the situation. The band closes with an expertly triangulated transmission of their hit “Channel Surfing”. The head is so far bloated at this point and explodes buckets of green foam onto the crowd. The radiation from the foam puts the crowd into a state of panic. Craig quickly regrows a fresh head, and the band exits the stage. Spectacular as this is, you must continue your journey, as the groups of Whitney and Kurt Vile are soon to enter frame…

Sarah

Considering last year’s Twilight Concert Series was how I originally became involved with K-UTE Radio, it was needless to say that I was extremely excited for this year’s lineup. My friend and I arrived at the concert just in time to see the local band, 90’s Television. They opened the show with surf/rock rhythms and a relaxed audience repertoire.

After their set, I headed towards the food trucks to scope out the dining options. I walked around for a while until I saw a lady carrying a small cup of light-purple liquid. Intrigued, I headed in her direction and found a Poutine truck selling drinks called “Hummingbirds” made of lavender soda and a lemon wedge. After being in the summer heat, I made the best decision of the day and ordered one. If you get a chance to go to the next Twilight Concert, so should you.

Soon enough, I heard the rumble of the next band coming on and headed back to the crowd. The first thing I noticed was the sheer size of the band. SIx people including a trumpet player and a lead singer playing drums took up the stage. They announced their name, Whitney, and played a set of seemingly upbeat songs with underlying darker themes like depression and break ups.

Even though I had never heard of Kurt Vile & The Violators before the concert, I took a listen to the song “Pretty Pimpin'” before the show and immediately fell in love. While I wasn’t a huge fan of his other music, my friend has a video of me going ham to that song which might double as blackmail later on. His quirky, introspective lyrics and country-style guitar riffs make him a perfect artist to sit down and listen to on vinyl.

Martyn

I re-awoke after a weirdly long week of not going to Twilight Concerts in time for this week’s Twilight Concert. After walking through the city of Salt Lake under a ceaselessly unwavering sun, I arrived (again, shivering with anticipation for lanyard glory) through the gates into the park which has now become a real haven of sorts on Thursday nights. You could say music was in the air or something like that.

The first band, 90’s Television opened up against the final afternoon blaze with pure rock ‘n roll. More local heroes adorning themselves in deserved spotlight had the crowd shimmying. I saw two patrons holding up larger-than-accustomed-to print outs of the bassist’s head. The bassist laughed, we laughed, the sun went down a little further. Wearing only sunglasses sans prescription, I bumbled my way through people on blankets and unsteadily placed-on-the-grass drinks.

After sneaking behind the K-UTE table to rest on a weirdly comfy bucket, I went back into the crowd for openers Whitney. The experience of seeing a lead vocalist/drummer live is something of note, even if the songs (albeit a cover of the “Golden Girls” theme) had a steady and unwavering rhythm. The songs weren’t exactly catchy but the sounds still fulfilled expectations. Concurrently, I was awestruck by the power one band member had using and instrument called a trumpet. Each time this trumpet would blow, the crowd would immediately begin woo-ing and clapping in awestruck mob fascination at the certain long note emanating from the small brass.

Finally, as the night began to wrap around the stage in an awesome shroud, Kurt Vile & the Violators came on the massive applause. Week Two was slowly ending in between the songs which already had a melancholic air and I felt a pang of sadness. Kurt Vile had that certain rock-star swagger and great jeans you’d come to expect from someone out of Philadelphia. When with his band, the songs flourished; when solo, Kurt Vile still held people in attention. After his set, the crowd dispersed into the night amongst talk of past and future and I headed to the train which was way out.

 

 

Photos by Trevor Von Hake & Sarah Nelson

 

 

The Magic of Music: KONGOS

Check out this alternative rock band making its way through the charts!

KONGOS is a South African-born Greek-American alternative rock band consisting of four brothers: Johnny, Jesse, Daniel, and Dylan Kongos. Based out of Phoenix, AZ, the band specialize in driving, arena-ready alt rock in the vein of Muse and Kings of Leon that’s infused with the polyrhythmic cadences of the South African upbringing. They released their debut album in 2007, followed by the platinum-selling Lunatic in 2012, which spawned the hit singles I”m Only Joking” and “Come With Me Now”.

I had an amazing opportunity to interview the band at this year’s Bonanza Campout and you can check it out all down here!

K-UTE: What inspired you all to be an alternative-rock band instead of any other genre?

KONGOS: Someone told us that we should do it! We were trying all sorts of different things (hip-hop/rap, metal, etc.) and it wasn’t working out and then one of our music instructors back at Arizona State University told us that we should try out this alternative genre. We gave it a shot and it started to click!

K-UTE: How long ago after did you guys get big after taking the instructor’s advice?

KONGOS: When we started to add the dance element, it started to take off, especially during performances! The audiences were very receptive towards that.

K-UTE: Out of all of the shows you have all performed, which one was your favorite?

KONGOS: We were doing this show in Copenhagen and it was at this tiny club where 40 people showed up and the couches and floors were dirty. There was this energy from the anarchists in the crowd that was the most interested than any other crowd that we performed for. We don’t know whether it was from their political beliefs or whatever but for some reason, it just clicked!

K-UTE: Out of all the songs Y’all have written, what songs are your favorites?

KONGOS: One song that is our favorite is “I Want to Know” because it’s a nice one to perform! Another one we like to perform live is “Birds Do It” because it’s fun.

K-UTE: If you were to give aspiring musicians and bands one piece of advice, what would you say to them?

KONGOS: Roll your stage cables up quickly! Also, learn how to get on and off stage quickly and really listen to everyone’s opinions because often you are wrong about what you think and how you think your music should be. If you listen to other people, sometimes they give you a little bit of insight!

Check out KONGOS on their Facebook page for any announcements and information! You can also check them out on their Spotify.

What’s On My Playlist? #1

This summer has been a fantastic era for new music and new artists. Here are some of the songs that I’ve had on repeat this past June.

“Die Young” by Sylvan Esso

“Die Young” is a perfect combination of bittersweet lyrics and bubbly, bass-infused indie-pop beats that’ll make you want to hop in the car and leave everything behind. Plus, their new album What Now has similar hits like “Radio” and “Kick Jump Twist” that utilizes creative computer-esque beats and intriguing lyrics.

“Loving Someone” by The 1975

While their latest album came out in 2016, I can’t seem to stop listening to “Loving Someone” and pretty much every other song from The 1975. They have a beautiful talent of mixing aesthetic value and music together in a way that transports you to another place when you listen to them. For me “Loving Someone” is a song that uses poetic lyrics and dreamy synths to create a visual image every time you listen to it.

“Sober” by Lorde

As a long time fan of Lorde’s music, I was both hesitant and excited to listen to her new album, Melodrama. While I didn’t fall in love with her first hit from the album, “Green Light,” once I heard the opening to “Sober,” I was entranced. The song begins with eerie and desperate vocals that aptly sets the tone for the song. The subtle chorus and punching lyrics will definitely hit the heart of any angsty teen, like myself.

“Loudspeaker” by MUNA

I’ve already written an article on MUNA’s new album About U , here, but something about them has left a lasting impression. The lead singer, Katie Gavin, has such a unique voice, and all of their songs, like “Loudspeaker,” have an empowering, passionate, and truthful tone that goes straight to the heart. Plus, their style and aesthetic are to die for.

“Alone” by Halsey

While “Now or Never” is the staple hit from her new album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, the song “Alone” has stuck out to me personally. The Pink Floyd-esque opening is an interesting instrumental lead into lyrics about a life of partying and fame, while still feeling completely lonely when the glamor fades. While I’m not sure if I can relate, I still feel like wistfully looking through a window with my heart shaped sunglasses on whenever I hear the song.

“Amsterdam” by Nothing But Thieves

Ever since I heard their first hit, “Trip Switch,” Nothing But Thieves has formed a special place in my heart. The song “Amsterdam” is a rock filled anthem that makes you wanna headbang in a circle, but the vocals and melody are catchy enough that you’ll be humming it long after the song is finished.

Summer Boy by “Lady Gaga”

Yes, this song was originally released in 2009, but it’s integral to any summer playlist, and as soon as you press play on this track, you’ll understand why. Lady Gaga’s iconic vocals and pop-powered electric guitar riffs make the song feel like pure candy to the ears. Plus, the light-hearted and whimsical lyrics make it a perfect summer jam.

“Baby Driver” Blends Music & Movie in Perfect Unison

Baby Driver, the latest from writer/director Edgar Wright, is about to further fuel Wright’s cinematic position as one of the most daring auteurs this side of the arthouse. Although Wright’s name may not be household, his films certainly are. From Shaun of the Dead to Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Wright has been crafting the most loved of so-called “cult classics” for years now. Baby Driver is not Wright’s first genre-bending work, but the film is the first to withhold comedy from being the driving force. Instead, Wright allows the harmonious relationship between music and action to cultivate a glorious spectacle of summer blockbuster.

Ansel Elgort stars as Baby, a getaway driver with tinnitus who constantly listens to music on his vintage (they’re not that old) iPods. This opens the gateway for the fusion of music and film Wright is so known for. As Baby goes from heist to heist, meeting criminals played by Jon Hamm, Jaimie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, and Eiza González, he listens to a wildly fitting selection of songs from a bevy of decades to accompany his driving prowess. Added in to the playlist is Lily James’ Debora as the love interest to Baby and his main cause for action. Through the spectacular cinematography and soundtrack, Baby speeds through a number of automobiles, turning Atlanta into a demolition derby.

Edgar Wright continuously brings his own overt-style to each film (seems fitting he didn’t direct Ant-Man) with quick editing, wry humor, and of course, music and action in sync. For Baby Driver, its as if Wright has turned his own love for music into a narrative force. Each song for the soundtrack isn’t there for just background noise and helps add to the already much heightened reality. The fantasy of living out a personal movie through personal soundtracks is fulfilled by Baby’s constant musical choices of BlurDavid McCallumThe Commodores, among plenty of others playing out through his day. From the long tracking shot in the beginning set to Bob & Earle’s “Harlem Shuffle” showing Baby interacting with his world, the importance of a soundtrack is never diminished. A finale set to an apt Queen song is one of those perfect movie moments. More than a car/heist/action movie, Baby Driver is a music lover’s fantasy, a “what if” all those songs rolling around your head were helping make the movie of your life.

The fantasy of stylish getaway driving seen in other films like Drive, The Driver, and The Getaway have by tradition always favored the neo-noir soaked approach to cool. Wright’s wonderful eye for color leaves out the chiaroscuro and neon-stylings for a palette of primary colors and bright Atlanta scenery. Narratively, Wright keeps the archetypical silent driver through Baby (along with the classic villainous criminal tropes) and the “damsel-in-distress” character as Debora. Wright gives Debora enough nuance to flourish as a character, but never lets her break the male-dominated ideas of the car-chase-movie. The romance between her and Baby more highlights Baby’s own motivation than it does Debora’s character.

Baby Driver will be accepted into the Wright canon as more midnight movie watching and rewatching become accessible. Wright’s fans will have further reason to adulate him while his detractors may see this as, at least, a film demonstrating growth. The film is a towering love letter to music and action films and exemplifies Wright’s genre-bending intelligence. The kinetic editing and pacing only allow the energy of the film to flourish rather than hindering the action under a miasma of quick-cuts. The sheer coolness of style also breathes new life into the genre, with Kevin Spacey coming out as the primary scene-stealer, jazzed up on his own criminal world.

Wright’s ability to cross genres and present fresh takes on old stories is so well received because he crafts fun movies. There’s always drama present in his works, but he doesn’t let that slow down the massive appeal of action and comedy and character. Baby Driver continues this tradition but within a more dramatic vein. Its an action movie for music lovers, and vice versa. A homage without being cliché. A whirlwind of fantasy without being totally unrealistic.

Grade: A