September 7, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Andy Mulkerin of Pittsburgh's City Paper In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Andy (plus a  bonus song): New Shouts, "Reins to Your Heart" - These local retro-ish indie rockers are about to unleash a 7-song EP; they dwell somewhere between throwback and contemporary hip stuff, which I like. This easy jam almost has a Philly soul sound to it. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, "Letter Divine" - Someone still loves you, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. It's me! You just released a new double album filled with unreleased songs old and new, and some demos of songs we already knew. It's great, and this song is sweet and fun and makes me feel young. Thanks! Mandrake Project, "Transitions" - This is the title track from the local band's new album; last year they took on John Schisler (formerly of New Invisible Joy) as a full-time vocalist, and it works really well; I think they've really taken it to the next level. Good, pretty, cinematic stuff. Editor's note: Andy Mulkerin loves this boat --->
August 31, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Scott Mervis of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Scott: The War on Drugs, "Brothers" - My first thought was, 'Wow, this sounds so much like Kurt Vile.' Then I found out he used to be in this Philadelphia band. Adam Granduciel is a kindred spirit to Vile, sharing an interest in hazy, guitar-driven psych-rock with a Dylan and Petty influence. Adam sings a lot like Dylan on this track, but it's more winking tribute than rehash. Neighbours, "Real Talk" - If you live within shouting distance of Pittsburgh band Neighbours, what you're hearing from the rehearsal space ranges from Who-era power pop to Motown to blue-eyed soul. This track has the quartet, which formed in 2009 and features fellow 9:13 Buzz contributor Andy Mulkerin on drums, spinning along like The Four Tops.
August 24, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Justin Jacobs, contributing writer to Billboard Magazine Beirut, "East Harlem" - All the indie kids in town are excited for this one. Beirut burst on the scene a few years ago with an Eastern European music-aping debut, but with new album "The Rip Tide," he's finally finding a good balance of new and old, and the sound is all Beirut. Bound to find a place on year-end Best Album lists. Grooms, "Tiger Trees" - Joining Girls, Men, Women and all the other assorted 'people' bands, Grooms mixes scuzzy electronics with dark, danceable rock. I love the mood of "Tiger Trees": delicate but powerful, loud but whispered, crisp but murky. Definitely a band to watch. In case you missed it here's what he played:
August 17, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Scott Tady of The Beaver County Times. In case you missed it here's what he played (with commentary by Scott): Jeff Bridges, "Maybe I Missed the Point" - Yesterday was a big day for The Dude! Along with the re-mastered Blu-ray debut of "The Big Lebowski," Jeff Bridges released his self-titled country-western album. Picking up where he left off with his Oscar-winning portrayal as a seasoned, cut-to-the-bone philosophy-slinging singer, "Bad" Blake, Bridges delivers 10 sincere, homespun tracks helmed by longtime friend/Oscar-Grammy winner T-Bone Burnett. Like a true country star, Bridges writes just 3 of the album's songs, and not this standout track penned by John Goodwin, where a guy admits life's been good, but he could of and should of done more. Bridges' weathered and wisdom-filled voice makes the song sound autobiographical on lines like, "I laid low when I could've stood high/I said nothing when I should've asked why" and "Inside I'd like to believe I'm cool/Easy to love and hard to fool/But I know there's more I could have enjoyed." In terms of Hollywood stars-turned-music-artists, I'd rank Bridges well above Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner ... though a step below Kevin Bacon. Holy Ghost!, "Wait and See" - I saw this New York band make its Pittsburgh debut Saturday in a matinee slot on the Identity festival at First Niagara Pavilion. I liked their enthusiasm, tunefulness and the pop-rock spin they gave to techno-trance-house-EDM-dubstep (or whatever term you prefer for what many of us consider "rave" music.) A few of their songs, this one included, remind me a bit of Pet Shop Boys. The album's lead-off track has a Love & Rockets feel (remember them?)
Posted in
August 10, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Andy Mulkerin of Pittsburgh's City Paper In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Andy (plus a  bonus song): Future Islands, "Before the Bridge" - Future Islands is a formerly Baltimore-based, currently Brooklyn-based synthpop band led by the enigmatic and growly Samuel T. Herring. Their last full-length grew to be a favorite of mine; this single was released earlier in the summer in advance of their next full-length, On the Water, which is due in October. Nikki Lane, "Gone, Gone Gone" - This is the title track from Nikki Lane's EP from earlier this year. She's a young singer-songwriter with a very classic take on country music; it's a little bit affected, but then, so is Dolly Parton, eh? She's got a full-length in the works; I'm interested in seeing how it comes together. The War on Drugs, "I Was There" -This Philly-based band (which originally included Kurt Vile) is getting a lot of buzz for their ethereal new album, Slave Ambient. Is it wrong that I think Adam Granduciel sounds a little like Bryan Adams? Like, if Bryan Adams were the least bit cool?
August 3, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Scott Tady of The Beaver County Times. In case you missed it here's what he played (with commentary by Scott): Glen Campbell, "In My Arms" - One of the most remarkable albums of 2011 is "Ghost on the Canvas," the farewell effort by 75-year-old Glen Campbell. Campbell has been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's disease, which sets a dramatic backdrop to an album, due out Aug. 30, where the country-pop singer poignantly comes to terms with his situation. Far from wallowing in sorrow or regret, Campbell celebrates the gift of life and the love of family on the album, providing inspiration to us all. The all-star lineup of guest musicians includes Billy Corgan, Jakob Dylan, the Dandy Warhols, Teddy Thompson and Paul Westerberg, who wrote the title track, reminiscent of Campbell classics "Wichita Lineman," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Galveston" and "Gentle on My Mind." I've chosen here one of the liveliest songs, "In My Arms," which gets twanged and surfed up by the guitar triumverate of Chris Issak, Brian Setzer and Dick Dale. Yawn, "Acid" - These suburban Chicago psychedelic rockers are drawing lots of Animal Collective comparisons. They're trippy, in case the title of this debut single left you wondering. The full-length album arrives Aug. 30. Having opened shows for the likewise memorably named Yuck, not to mention Pittsburgh's Girl Talk, Yawn hits the road next month with Mates of State. The second night of their tour visits Mr. Small's Theatre.
August 2, 2011 by [email protected]
Toad the Wet Sprocket is on the last leg of a tour before they head back into the studio to record their first new album in well over 15 years... so I thought I'd check them out live one more time, Monday night at The Kent Stage, in Kent, OH. In 1998 Toad the Wet Sprocket parted ways and I didn't have my first opportunity to see them until 2009.  Thus; I don't know what their shows were like in the 1990's.  What I do know, however; is that I overheard other concert goers at the venue say that it was like listening to their records...that this was an awesome show...that they still sound great.  This was from both first timers and from those who've seen Toad perform many times over the years. For about 1 hour and 45 minutes Toad delivered 23 songs, 3 of which came in the encore.  It was a live cranked-up version of their music catalog: Something's Always Wrong, Whatever I Fear, Good Intentions, Stupid, Windmills, All I Want, Crazy Life, Nightingale Song, Come Down, I Will Not Take These Things for Granted and Come Back Down.  In the middle of the set they tried out two new songs (which they also did at the show in Pittsburgh back in April): The Moment and Friendly Fire - they already sound like old Toad favorites. To me the overall mood seemed to trend a bit more moody and darker than the other concerts I've attended.  As part of the encore, Toad did an amazing version of Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie) and then slowed things down with their final song Walk on the Ocean.

Jonatham Kingham with Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket

Jonathan Kingham pulled double duty.  Playing keys and other instruments for Toad, and opening the show. Mr. Kingham, who now lives in Nashville and resembles Keith Urban, immediately developed a rapport with the audience that carried him through his brief 5 song, 40 minute set.  The highlight was when Mr. Kingham did a free styling rap in the middle of Every Little Step (Bobby Brown).  He has this natural ability to improvise - encompassing everything that he talked about during his set into the rap.  The audience showed their appreciation by giving him a standing ovation before he did his final song Grace. Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
Posted in
July 27, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Justin Jacobs, contributing writer to Billboard Magazine In case you missed it here's what he played: Cloud Nothings, "Should Have" - I already listed this last month as one of my extra picks, but hell, I just couldn't get away from it. Few things are better than a three minute sugar rush of some catchy, electric power pop, and this song takes the cake this summer. White Denim, "Street Joy" - An ethereal cloud of dreamy acoustic folk, this song is alone stylistically on White Denim's album "D." That's a shame, too — the rest of the album is full of assorted rock genres, but none touch on the gorgeous ache of this brooder.
Posted in
July 20, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Scott Mervis of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Scott: Tedeschi Trucks Band, "Ball and Chain" - It was only a matter of time until Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks just chucked everything else and started a real band together. After all, they've been married for 10 years. Not surprisingly, with her soulful singing and his dazzling slide work, it's a potent combination, especially with a full 11-piece band of seasoned players. They headline the Pittsburgh Blues Festival on Saturday. Joss Stone, "Newborn" - Like Derek Trucks, British soul-rocker Joss Stone started as a teen and had to be channeling some sort of spirit to sing the way she did. Eight years and five albums into her recording career, she's still blossoming. This is from her new album, "LP1," but you can also look forward to her work with Super Heavy, the supergroup featuring Mick Jagger, Damian Marley, Dave Steward and AR Rahman.
July 18, 2011 by [email protected]

(Photo by Mr. Barb)

Lucinda Williams and Amos Lee performed on the North Shore Sunday Night. Amos Lee may be from Philadelphia, but he knew he was on the other side of the commonwealth and felt comfortable enough to refer to us as “yinzers” by the end of his 14 song 1-hour and 15-minute set. Mr. Lee brought a larger band with him than did Lucinda Williams. Pedal Steel, banjo, upright and electric bass, drums, electric guitars, keys and male and female back-up singers; while he stood center stage switching between electric and acoustic guitars. Mercifully, the stage and seating area were in the shade by the time Mr. Lee took the stage at 8 p.m. Mr. Lee began with El Camino and showed versatility though out the evening with gospel, country-tinged songs - varying the tempo to bring the crowd into his performance (those who had never heard of Amos Lee before this show, surely knew who he was afterwards.) There was the title track of Supply and Demand, (2006) Flower from Mission Bell (2011), along with Truth, Street Corner Preacher from Last Days at the Lodge (2008). One of his backup singers, “Angel” (Mutlu), came out all in white to do a song reminiscent of Soul Train circa 1976 (Shower with Love) as he sang about cereal and shampoo – it was hilarious. Ms. Williams joined Mr. Lee on Clear Blue Eyes. He ended his set with Windows Are Rolled Down. Lucinda Williams performed 16 songs (including 2 in the encore) with her 3–piece band (bass, drums, guitar) in a 1-hour and 20-minute set. A few new songs off of her current CD Blessed (including the title track as part of the encore): I Don’t Know How You’re Livin’, Copenhagen, Born to Be Loved and Buttercup. Ms. Williams never stood still, bouncing around and swaying even when she was just at the microphone without her guitar. She told us that a couple of people (her brother and a person in jail) were subjects in her songs previously. There was Pineloa (about poet Frank Stanford) and Metal Firecracker. Also Joy and Honey Bee. All delivered with passion and wrapped up neatly by 11 p.m on a warm night in Pittsburgh. Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host
Posted in
July 17, 2011 by [email protected]
Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald proved to be a dynamic duo Saturday night. Michael McDonald kicked off the evening with the sun beating directly down on him as he sat center stage with his keyboard.  Despite the heat, Mr. McDonald delivered a 14-song. 65-minute fast paced set.  After the third song, Mr. McDonald said he better introduce the band and 2 female back-up singers before he got "heat stroke" (the band pulled double duty, supporting Boz Scaggs as well.)  From my seat, I was only able to see the back-up singers and Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs, so I will take Mr. McDonald's word for it that the band was made up of "middle-aged ugliness" - although I couldn't see them, the band sounded good on guitar, drums, bass, keys, Hammond B-3 organ, and sax.  Mr. McDonald started out strong with Doobie Brothers classics You Belong to Me and It Keeps You Runnin'.  He recorded three albums for Motown and sang soulful versions of I Made It Through the Grapevine, Aint No Mountain High Enough and Living in the City.  From his solo work he reached back for I Keep Forgettin', Sweet Freedom and Yah Mo B There.  During Minute by Minute a train roared by and Mr. McDonald said that was probably a comment from the Doobie Brothers management.  This segment of the show ended, as it began, with another Doobie Brothers song What A Fool Believes. After a brief 20-minute intermission, Boz Scaggs just casually walked on to the stage with his guitar for a 70-minute set of a dozen songs.  I felt transported back to my teen age years, listening to my 45 rpm records in the mid to late 1970s.  These were not the AM radio versions of the songs.  They sounded very true to the original recordings, only without the scratches and skips you'd often hear on a well worn vinyl record.  It amazed me that I still knew almost all the lyrics.  The setlist was a collection of Boz Scagg's greatest hits from the past 35 years: Jojo, Some Change, Lowdown, Breakdown Dead Ahead, Miss Sun, Look What You've Done to Me (a song that would be a must have on my MP3 player if ever I found myself stranded on a deserted island), Georgia and Lido Shuffle. One of the talented back up singers, Ms. Mone't, did an extended spirited version of Bonnie Raitt's Something to Talk About in the middle of the set. Within 5-minutes, a keyboard was added to the stage and Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs returned to perform a 5-song encore that extended the concert to nearly 3-hours:  Hallelujah, Drowning in the Sea of Love, Ces't La Vie (Chuck Berry) and It's Alright with Mr. McDonald on accordion, and the final song of the night was Takin' it to the Streets. Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
Posted in
July 13, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Andy Mulkerin of Pittsburgh's City Paper In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Andy (plus  bonus songs): 1, 2, 3, "Work" - This is the first track on the local band's debut release on Frenchkiss Records. Two of the guys who used to be in Takeover UK spent some time revamping their stuff and have re-emerged with a more eclectic, weirdo-pop vibe. Rubblebucket, "Raining" - I saw this band at the Rex a few weeks back; it's an eight-piece with a lot of energy and some great tunes. Maybe slightly too jam-bandy for the hipsters and too avant-garde for the traditional jam-band types, which makes them all the more appealing to me. Jolie Holland, "All Those Girls" - One of my favorite artists, Jolie Holland released her latest, Pint of Blood, last month. This is the lead track. She's continued her trajectory toward bigger orchestration and more straightforward beats -- almost playing rock music -- and on the record she revamps "Littlest Birds," which was on her debut demo and that Be Good Tanyas record. Perhaps the third time's the charm? White Wives, "Indian Summer, Indian Summer" - Anthemic art-punk from members of Anti-Flag and Dandelion Snow. This local band released its debut, Happeners, last month; it's an original mix of old-style emo and singer-songwriter stuff that could be one of the definitive records of the year in relation to what the "kids" are listening to.
July 6, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Scott Tady of The Beaver County Times. In case you missed it here's what he played (with commentary by Scott): Digitalism, "2 Hearts" - This German dance-punk duo bolsters its club-thumping beats with indie-rock structure. This single from their sophomore album slips a straight-forward, poppy chorus into a whirlwind of icy keyboards, drum machines and pulsating bass beats. With well-received appearances at Lollapalooza, Coachella and South by Southwest, Digitalism has a buzz brewing. Another standout track on the day-old album, "Forrest Gump," was co-written by Julian Casablancas. Julian Casablancas, "Rave On" - Did somebody mention the Strokes' frontman? Casablancas supplies the bold title track to the new Buddy Holly tribute album that features an all-star cast including Paul McCartney, Justin Townes Earle, Lou Reed, Graham Nash, My Morning Jacket, Florence + the Machine, Nick Lowe and the Black Keys. Casablancas resorts to a heaping dose of reverb mixed with layered vocals and spry, retro organ riffs to inject an edginess and quirky sophistication to Holly's genius-in-simplicity songwriting. For Casablancas, the risk works; something that can't be said for every track on this album. The best cut on "Rave On Buddy Holly" is ("You're So Square) Baby, I Don't Care" by Cee Lo Green, currently in rotation on WYEP.
June 29, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Justin Jacobs, contributing writer to Billboard Magazine In case you missed it here's what he played (plus bonus songs): Tune-Yards, "You Yes You" - The lady behind this noise is Merril Garbus, and she is awesome. Her voice? A scratchy, passionate yelp that's more rhythmic than melodic. Her music? Heavy grooving, stripped down and incredibly catchy. Wait till you start yelping along at work. Rubik, "Laws of Gravity" - These dudes are Finnish, and that's pretty much all I know about them. Well, aside from the fact that they make songs like a shiny, outerspace Peter Bjorn and John. Cloud Nothings, "Should Have" - This is the most infectious slice of scrappy guitar pop I've heard all year. Like Wavves but with oh so much less hype. The band is really young, so there's tons of promise here. Death Cab for Cutie, "Codes and Keys" - When I started listening to this new record, I thought it sucked. But in just two days, I've grown from thinking it sounded like a bad Death Cab for Cutie cover band to sounding like a good Death Cab for Cutie record! Who knows, at this rate, in days this may grow to be my favorite. I don't think so, but it's possible.
June 28, 2011 by [email protected]
The first music festival I ever attended was the Warped Tour in 1999. I was 12 years old. I remember watching a scrawny, drugged out, bleach-headed Eminem perform “My Name Is” and thinking, “man, this guy’s fifteen minutes are about up.” And yet, twelve years later, at the 10th Anniversary Bonnaroo Festival, there he was: sober and brunette, playing the main stage for what seemed like 84,999 of the 85,000 in attendance. Aside from Eminem’s notable career climb and my completion of puberty, a lot has changed since then in the culture of music festivals. 1999 was also the year of the 30th Anniversary Woodstock concert, which, aside from Altamont, ranks as one of the biggest catastrophes in festival history. An event that was supposed to pay homage to a landmark in music culture ended in violence and a million dollars in property damage. What happened? Some people pointed to the characteristically angry nature of the artists (Korn, Limp Bizkit). Others pointed to the characteristically bad nature of the music (Korn, Limp Bizkit). And many blamed the concert planners for gross mismanagement of the crowds and poor preparation. Whatever the cause, it became a huge story and shined a light on many of the risks and potential dangers involved in putting on concerts of this scale. As I drove to Manchester, TN for B’Roo last week, these questions of foresight and preparation brought me considerable angst. What if things turned violent? What if there was a tornado? How would they evacuate 85,000 people? What about de-hydration, drug and alcohol overdoses, sun poisoning? What if I lost my sunglasses? How can an event so replete with risks (heat, drug-use, crowds) run smoothly? Well, the simple answer is experience. As it was the 10th Anniversary, it seemed like Bonnaroo’s planners had benefited from each and every one of their ten years experience. Every possible problem seemed preemptively recognized, a decade of trial-and-errors answered, like a suggestion box converted directly into policy. First, there were the watering stations throughout the massive, 700-acre farm, both for hydrating and bathing purposes. Second, there were plenty of opportunities to cool off in air conditioned tents without charge (temperatures between 90-100 degrees daily). Third, there was enough food to feed...well, 85,000 people for four days (pizza, falafel, burritos, sandwiches, ice cream, beer, etc...). Fourth, there were B’Roo employees everywhere giving directions, answering questions and helping concert-goers find the right receptacle for their trash (B’Roo is a thoroughly “green” outfit, as they are quick to inform you). Hydration, hygiene and sustenance may seem like obvious staples of survival, but B’Roo planners also put considerable effort into treating boredom. It may seem counter-intuitive to clout a music festival with distractions, but it’s actually a really nice touch. Four days of non-stop concerts can be pretty taxing on the knees (and ears), so it makes sense to throw in some alternatives.
And there were plenty of alternatives. There were comedians performing in an air conditioned tent (Lewis Black, Donald Glover, Hannibal Burress), a movie theater, endless shopping (various essentials, artwork, a hemp district), a sports bar (NBA and NHL finals were both in full swing), a build-your-own drum station, a mid-size amusement park (ferris wheel included) and a water slide. Oh, and a hair salon hosted by Garnier Fructis (sponsorship is a ubiquitous force at B’Roo and any festival of this size, including a carnival brought to us by Adult Swim, a “Crunch Den” presented by Wheat Thins and a new flavor of Ben & Jerry’s called “Bonnaroo Buzz”).
Aside from all the fanfare and celebrity spotting (a Ron Jeremy sighting among the highlights of my press-area party experience), we were there for the music. Like many festivals this summer, Bonnaroo has a huge emphasis on creating a diverse and stimulating lineup. While the debut in 2002 had its share of rap and electronica (Jurassic 5, Blackalicious, Cut Chemist), this year saw a remarkable rise in focus on mainstream artists in those genres (Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Girl Talk, Pretty Lights, Ratatat). And considering the fact that many performances overlap in different areas of the festival, it’s nice to have a little variety. For me, the biggest draw in attending a festival is the mix of top-shelf headliners and smaller acts sharing the same venue (loosely speaking). The main stage hosted headliners like My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire, The Black Keys and Eminem, all of whom managed to give remarkable performances despite monstrous crowds. The Black Keys in particular played so well and from such a distance that they could have easily switched with lip-syncing stunt doubles, I would not have noticed. Some of my favorite performances came from artists I had actually photographed for WYEP at previous events, like The Low Anthem or Ben Sollee. But no mid-level performer rocked the dust out of my sandals like Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. I had previously seen them at the Rex Theater for a perfectly enjoyable show, but this performance blew me away. Not Dr. John’s midnight performance with the Meters, nor Neil Young “Rockin’ In The Free World” with Buffalo Springfield during a thunderstorm could compare to what BJL&TH did at a side-stage tent at 2:30 in the afternoon on Friday.
And that’s the beauty of going to a festival like Bonnaroo. After all the hype, all the buildup, all the buzz, our hopes are essentially the same as they’d be for an opening act at a regular concert: to be blown away by a band that we only half-know. And in that sense, I’d say Bonnaroo did it’s job. Having enjoyed a few weeks to recover from the festival (aloe vera, dust-removal), I thought I’d impart some of my festival knowledge for those of you still on the fence for your summer concert plans. Many of you shared my sense of uncertainty about going to a festival of this size, one Facebook comment deeming the setting as “third world.” As Lewis Black put it in his performance, only in America would people pay hundreds of dollars to live like a refugee.
The question becomes, how do the unfavorable circumstances of festival-life weigh against the star-spangled lineups? The truth is that many of these artists are promiscuous in the festival circuit so lineups aren’t necessarily distinct. In that sense, choosing a festival to attend has less to do with the music and more with the other factors (wait, the music doesn’t matter?). Like any decision, it’s about measuring pros and cons on a personal level. Based on my experience at Bonnaroo, I'd say the most important factors are experience, non-musical alternatives and amenities. So here are the basic bullet points for a few festivals on the horizon for this summer. Summerfest Date: June 30- July 10 Location: Milwaukee, WI Lineup Highlights: Peter Gabriel, Buddy Guy, The Black Keys w/ Florence & The Machine, Jason Mraz & Guster, Cage The Elephant, (Britney Spears, Katy Pary, Kanye), Better Than Ezra, Girl Talk, Fitz & The Tantrums, Owl City, Ben Harper, Old 97s, The Flaming Lips Price: Too many pricing options to mention. Website Rundown: Summerfest boasts the title of "The World's Largest Music Festival," and this is true in duration and scale (11 days, 700 bands). As you can tell from the bill, it's a pretty expansive group of artists ranging from top 40 to bands you'll hear on WYEP (Fitz!). They're expecting over 200,000 attendees, so if the Bonnaroo pictures made you squeamish, Summerfest is probably not the best option. Camp Bisco Date: July 7-9 Location: Mariaville, NY Lineup Highlights: Disco Biscuits, Ratatat, Yeasayer, Four Tet, Website Price: Varies depending on ticket-type. 3-Day pass for $160, Saturday only $80, VIP combo 3-day pass $389. Rundown: Like Jane’s Addiction/Lollapalooza or Wilco/Solid Sound Festival, this was started by musicians, in this case,the jamband Disco Biscuits. Slightly more electronic this year, with acts like Pretty Lights, Cut Copy, Bassnectar. This is the 10th Anniversary of Camp Bisco. All Good Festival Date: July 14-17 Location: Marvin’s Mountaintop, Masontown, WV Lineup Highlights: Further (ft. Bob Weir & Phil Lesh), Umphrey’s McGee, John Butler Trio, Keller Williams, Toots & The Maytals, JJ Grey & Mofro, Donna The Buffalo, moe. Price: $170-$200 Website Rundown: This is the 15th year for All Good, might benefit from that maturity as B’Roo did. It’s much smaller in scale than Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo. Like the name suggests, it is focused on jambands and the like. It's a convenient drive for Pittsburgh residents, just a little south of Morgantown. There are lots of great artists, similar in genre and prominence. (There’s an oddly high number of anniversary festivals this summer, suspicious correlation with the release of “Wayne’s World 2"). Lollapalooza Date: August 5-7 Location: Grant Park, Chicago, IL Lineup Highlights: Like Bonnaroo, there are almost too many to mention. My Morning Jacket, Muse, Explosions In The Sky, Arctic Monkeys, The Cars, Portugal The Man, Best Coast, Bright Eyes, Ween, Tennis, Foo Fighters, Coldplay Website Price: Single day tix for $90 Rundown: This is an awesome lineup with reasonable pricing. It's a good example of how much money you can save by paying one price to see all these bands in one event, rather than in individual shows. But, like Summerfest, this is a gigantic festival. In 2010, they estimated 240,000 attendees and should see similar numbers this year. Hopscotch Date: September 8-10 Location: Raleigh, NC Lineup Highlights: The Flaming Lips, Guided By Voices, Drive-by Truckers, The Dodos, Superchunk, Vivian Girls, Titus Andronicus Website Price: Cheapest! $105 for whole show Rundown: Hopscotch ranks among the most interesting and provocative lineup this summer. There are 13 venues hosting 150 bands bands, 40% of which hail from the Raleigh/Durham area. It's not a huge number, but it's one of the few summer festivals that places much emphasis on local music. I'd say based on price, lineup and proximity to Pittsburgh, Hopscotch is the most appealing festival this summer. There are plenty of other concert series this summer, but these are the most intriguing to me. Whatever you decide, be safe, have fun and hydrate.
Tags:
Posted in

Pages