Lorde at Governors Ball was EVERYTHING

I officially kicked off the 2017 festival season by attending the first day of Governors Ball here in New York City. I was looking forward to seeing Chance the Rapper, Flume, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, and a special DJ set from Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem.

But most of all, I was looking forward to Lorde. I love Lorde and have been waiting very patiently for her to return to performing after a 3-year-but-seemed-longer hiatus.

When Lorde took the stage at Governors Ball last night, she seemed to be her old, eccentric, somewhat inaccessible self, singing from beneath a white veil because Lorde does not even need a reason, you guys.

After the first song (and veil removal), however, it was apparent that this was not the same Lorde that I saw at Roseland Ballroom (RIP) 3 years ago. This is new and improved Lorde. Lorde 2.0.

Lorde 2.0 is 20 years old now, and while she had an amazing voice as a teenager, the additional 3 years have added so much maturity and depth to her singing.

Lorde 2.0 has matured in other ways, as well. As a teenager her stage presence was brooding, mostly quiet but occasionally sharing, in a somber voice, the deeply emotional stories behind her songs. Now she has more between-song banter and a much happier, brighter outlook. She seemed both excited and humbled to be on stage and possessed a natural enthusiasm that made you want to be her best friend. She remarked on the perfect weather and thanked everyone profusely for sharing in the moment with her.

Lorde’s music has evolved along with her persona. Her 2013 album Pure Heroine was a collection of mellow, electro-pop hits. Her new album, Melodrama, which drops in 2 weeks, is more upbeat and classically pop. The single “Green Light,” released in March and which closed out her Governors Ball set, is a straight up banger.

The production value of Lorde’s GovBall set was higher than that of either time that I saw her as a solo act. Earlier, her performances involved only her, standing and singing. She drew you in with her strange, jerky movements and intrigued you with the darkness of her personality. Now her show involves modern dancers, performing behind her in an elevated transparent box.

Most shocking of all was the fact that Lorde’s set ended in fireworks. I would not, in 2014, have ever foreseen a Lorde show involving any type of pyrotechnics. She was not that kind of artist and it would have made zero sense. But last night, it fit.

I was looking forward to Lorde’s set at Governors Ball but didn’t know how much it would blow me away. As a performer she is magnetic, and for a full 60 minutes (inexplicably cut from a 75 minute scheduled set, wah) she had the entire audience captivated.

Lorde has not just been through a hiatus in the last 3 years; she’s been through an evolution. Her music is snappier, she radiates joy, and she aims to truly connect with her audience. She has grown from a teenager who created pop music into an actual pop star.

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Concert Review: Green Day at Webster Hall

Photo credit: me. #nofilter, because I am great.

Photo credit: me. #nofilter, because I am great.

I’ve wanted to see Green Day live for about 20 years now. Much like anyone who came into adolescence in the 90s, Dookie remains one of my favorite all-time albums and “Basket Case” is my go-to karaoke song (I have been singing/yelling along to this song since long before I knew what on earth, “Am I just paranoid or am I just stoned?” meant).

I saw that Green Day was playing Webster Hall and immediately had the thought that I imagine a lot of you are having if you’re familiar with both this particular band and this particular venue: “Green Day is way too fucking big to be playing Webster.” So I did some research and saw that they’re playing a series of small venues in support of their new album, Revolution Radio, and will probably do a stadium tour later this year. I knew I wanted in on the small venue action. For once in my life I was blessed by the Gods of Ticketmaster and managed to grab a pair of really-hard-to-get tickets and proceeded to feel really smug about the whole thing.

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So the show day arrived, the lucky friend I had invited to be my +1 and I went to the venue and found our spot in the crowd about 6 minutes before Green Day was supposed to take the stage. And then, like angels singing upon us from the heavens, “Bohemian Rhapsody” started blasting over the loudspeakers. Have you ever had a Bohemian Rhapsody singalong and NOT enjoyed it? Trick question! Because that is literally not even possible.

Finally, the band actually took the stage and launched into “Know Your Enemy,” and 1500 people jumped up and down and I could feel the Webster floor moving under us, and I thought, “Well, if the floor caves in right now, at least I died having fun.”

The next 2 hours and 15 minutes were spent singing and dancing and generally being mesmerized by Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day’s lead singer who is 44 but looks 19. Like all great Rock Gods, Billie Joe is a total badass and is cooler than you and me and all of our collective friends combined. At key moments he would just stand there doing absolutely NOTHING except looking out at us soaking it all in and I still think everyone in Webster last night would have jumped off a bridge if Billie Joe had asked us to. Shows like this one always have me feel a little nostalgic for the days when I used to attend mostly rock concerts as opposed to just the occasional one that I do now. There’s something about an energetic, charismatic frontman guiding you along in a rock and roll journey that is just not paralleled in other types of musical experiences.

Last night’s show featured a range of Green Day classics and samples of Revolution Radio, which dropped on October 7th. Perhaps the most unexpected moment for me came with The Isley Brothers’s “Shout,” which may have been the last thing I would have expected to hear at a Green Day concert, until they followed “Shout” with “Hey Jude,” which was just beautiful.

Though Green Day ended the show with  “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” a song I grew to hate after hearing a college roommate play it on the guitar all day every day for an entire semester, I still couldn’t help but sing along and enjoy the moment and maybe now, 14 years later, I can stop loathing it.

Green Day has yet to formally announce their larger stadium tour, though Billie Joe did say they’d be back to New York in 2017. Even though the small venue setting will probably always win out, I, for one, cannot wait.

Electric Zoo: The Music (Year 2!)

I think everyone knows the drill by now. Don’t forget to read about the EZoo experience over here, and let’s get down to business.

G Jones
I arrived at EZoo just in time to catch G Jones. If you don’t know G Jones, here’s the main thing you need to know about him: the bass is so heavy that if you try to record any video on your phone, it sounds like this: WUB WUB SCRATCHY SCRATCHY WUB. Totally impossible. But so fun.

Flux Pavilion
Flux was one of the first electronic artists I ever listened to, back when I had no idea about genres and just started listening to random artists from all across the board. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen him and while I don’t listen to much dubstep anymore, nostalgia will always make go to his sets (plus, he’s great). 

Carnage
My friend and I snaked our way in through the crowd to get pretty close for this one, and I made us leave 10 minutes later because it was boring. Nope.

Datsik
The Hilltop tent had about 1000% humidity during this set, but it was so fun I didn’t even care. I nearly lost my mind when he started playing Pretty Lights because Datsik is so heavy and PL is so not, until I remembered that this remix is an official thing that exists and I shouldn’t have been surprised by it (whoops). 

Bassnectar
The last Nectar set I saw was so disappointing, I was happy that I didn’t repeat that experience. This set started off so mellow but it picked up in intensity and got to the head bangy level you expect from him. 

Hermitude
I didn’t really know much about Hermitude aside from this one song of theirs that Flume remixes and which I heard nearly every artist play on the first day of EZoo. They had adorable Australian accents and were more chill than I expected them to be, in a good way. I’m not being entirely fair to them by posting the Flume remix here but..it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to. 

Goldfish
I LOVE GOLDFISH. They’re so fun and so talented with their many instruments.  Their street team handed out cardboard goldfish and we waved those fish in the a-yer, waved them like we just didn’t ca-yer. 

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Big Gigantic
Hey, have you guys ever heard me talk about this band? No? YES YOU HAVE I TALK ABOUT THEM ALL THE TIME. Big G just released a new album and hearing the new stuff live for the first time was incredible. This was my favorite Big G set ever, ever, ever. 

Polish Ambassador
My first time seeing Polish live and it was the BEST. I had no idea that he wears a crazy jumpsuit and otherwise just has so much great energy. A+ must see again. This set was such a nice way to cool down after the insanity of Big G. It was also sort of nice that the tent completely emptied out because everyone wanted to go see Porter Robinson or Steve Aoki, which is SUCH A MISTAKE because Polish is so much better. But whatevs.  

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I’m sure EZoo will draw me in again next year, so, until then!

Farm Fest: The Music

One week ago I was at itty bitty Farm Fest, sitting under my canopy for the last time and dreading going home to the real world. I already wrote all about the Farm Fest logistics, so now let’s get down to the important stuff: the music.

Like at any festival, there was a mix of old favorites and new discoveries. Here are the highlights:

Soohan
I fell in love with Soohan when I discovered his remix of the Inspector Gadget theme song, which somehow is both hip hop-y and…ethereal. Farm was my first time seeing him live, and it was as great as I thought it would be.

 

The Widdler
I had never heard of this act before, but in the hours leading up to it it seemed like the entire festival was anticipating his performance. This is usually a pretty good indicator of something awesome, and it was. This short demo song I found is a perfect example of bass music that’s perfect for a small festival in that it’s still sort of mellow and doesn’t make you want to go too wild (one of my main complaints I heard throughout Farm was that the music – which we could easily hear from our campsites – was way too heavy for the chill environment).

 

The Floozies
I’ve talked about these guys so many times on this blog. They are always fantastic, and it was particularly great dancing to this funky set with my feet in the lake. After the 95 degree day, it was cool and refreshing.

 

Krooked Drivers
This duo-turned-solo-act is one I hadn’t seen before so I was really looking forward to it. It was funky and soulful and glitchy and wonderful.

 

Modern Measure
Easily the best new discovery of Farm Fest for me. I had heard this name before but knew nothing about this band. It reminded me a little of Emancipator in its weird combination of upbeat and mellowness.

 

Emancipator
You may recall that I saw Emancipator just last month at Mysteryland, and I found it a total buzz kill. The whole audience’s energy seemed to die during this set at ML and I said that Emancipator should never play at night. Well, they played at night at Farm and for some reason, it just worked. It was so perfect for the beachy setting.

 

Liquid Stranger
This was another one that the whole festival seemed to be buzzing about yet I really had no idea of what to expect. Like a lot of the music at this festival, his stuff was chock fulla bass. What I found most impressive was that he opened and closed his set by rapping, though he didn’t talk at all during. So it was cool and totally unexpected (plus, he’s crazy talented).

 

And thus concludes my recaps of the only camping festival I will attend this summer. So sad.

 

 

 

Mysteryland: The Music (Year 2!)

Festival season is back! HOORAY!

I was fortunate to snag some last minute passes to days 2 and 3 of Mysteryland up in Bethel, NY, thus officially kicking off festival season and marking the first time that I get to review the same festival twice! Let’s get down to business.

Ganga White Night
I knew nothing about these dudes going into ML, but my ears were pleased to find some super thick, bass-heavy tunes. Very reminiscent of G Jones, in my opinion (which is great, because I missed almost G Jones’s entire set later on that day). 

The Floozies
The goofiest funk duo alive. I don’t think it’s possible for me to ever be disappointed by a Floozies set. They throw down with the best of them, and I enjoyed their rendition of the Star Spangled Banner with Matt singing through a guitar talkbox (this is what the thing Peter Frampton uses is called, yes?). 

Emancipator
I love Emancipator. His music is beautiful and calming and wonderful and has no business being so late in the day at a festival. People were sleeping all over the lawn during this one, myself included. It was a great set but my unsolicited advice to all festival schedulers would be to keep him during the daylight hours. 

Gramatik
This set did not do it for me and most people seem to share this opinion. It’s too sad for me to even talk about because Gramatik is one of my favorites. I’m seeing him again in August and keeping my fingers crossed that this was just a fluke. I did love this “Eat Liver!” opener from his new Epigram album, though. 

Illenium
This was the first act I saw on the last day of the festival, and while I started out just sitting on the grass trying to ease myself into the day, I couldn’t help but get up and dance after a few minutes. I’m not posting any YouTube clips here because his set was so upbeat yet it appears that most of his catalog (which I am completely unfamiliar with) is more slow and melodic. I am decidedly not into any of these songs that I’m picking through right now, but would see him live again in a heartbeat.

Lido
He is an adorable and soulful little R&B-esque powerhouse. I have no idea how old he is but he looks far younger than my 32 years. The feels were running high in this set. 

Machinedrum
I stopped by this set because I had vaguely heard this name before.  It was INCREDIBLE. There were house moments and moombahton moments and drum & bass moments and I was having so much fun that dancing while literally jumping up and down did not feel adequate enough to express my enjoyment. And as a bonus, he played in the Big Top tent which was a nice warm change from the windy outdoors. No video here either because yet again I am just not digging what I’m finding.

Keys N Krates
Love them. This 3 piece trap band never disappoints me in a festival setting. The kind of set that gives your quads a real workout. 

GRiZ
OMGRIZ. Best set of the festival and easily the best GRiZ set I’ve ever seen. I would relive this 70 minutes over and over. His transitions are on point and I love how he remixes his own funky songs into something heavy and trappy that works perfectly with festival crowds. And opening with Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It?” YES. 

Zeds Dead
Even after enjoying their set at Electric Zoo last year I am still woefully ignorant of Zeds Dead music. And while I loved this Mysteryland set, I still don’t really know what they sound like because they played so much non-Zeds Dead music. That being said, I was totally into it because it was like being out with my friends at a bar with a really great DJ. Zeds Dead, you can DJ my next birthday party fo sho fo sho. 

Bassnectar
I don’t know why but this was a little bit of a snoozer for me, likely because I was actually just flat out exhausted. The last time I saw Nectar was at Basslights in December and that experience was next level for me. This, on the other hand, was forgettable. I still love Nectar though and have been rocking out to his music in my bedroom all day (and enjoying it far more than I did at Mysteryland). 

You can also read about the Mysteryland logistics, for the more technical stuff. =)

Concert Review: Justin Bieber at the Wells Fargo Center

I never thought that I would see Justin Bieber in concert once, yet alone twice (read about the sadness and hilarity of the first time here). Yet when a friend was gifted a pair of tickets by her boyfriend but asked to bring someone else, I couldn’t say no. I love a pop extravaganza and I figured the Biebs would not disappoint.

What I expected from a Justin Bieber concert would be awesome dancing, pyrotechnics, and lots of screaming teenagers. I got all of those things, but there was also a Bieber drum solo, a lot of stupid faux-gangster bandana-wearing, a giant trampoline, a mellow acoustic break, and actual raining.

(Apologies for the vertical video – they work far better on Snapchat than they do on YouTube.) But I was pretty impressed by this waterfall setup which seemed wholly unnecessary for a one-song encore, but I suppose appropriately extravagant for a tour that’s selling out huge stadiums across the country.

I think we all know that Bieber is actually a really talented dancer, and I was definitely impressed when I saw him last summer, so I had high expectations for this time around. His energy level was pretty low throughout the show and he seemed to be phoning it in a little, and I honestly think part of the reason for this is that most of his choreography was too simple for him. He made most of the dancing look easy, which is great, but then you had weird moments like this.

What is that dorky walk for the first few seconds? Who knows.

Overall, I had an awesome time at this show and didn’t even mind being nearly deafened by all the screaming (thanks, earplugs!). It was exciting and fun and being on the older end of the audience spectrum allowed my friend and I to have a sense of humor about the ridiculousness of it all. I mean seriously, why the bandanas? WHY?

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It was totally worth the trip to Philadelphia and while I’m still not willing to shell out money for a Bieber show (last summer I saw him at a festival for free), I sort of hope I manage to just stumble upon some tickets to see him again in the future.

Concert Review: Wyclef Jean at Brooklyn Bowl

When I saw Wyclef Jean’s name come up on Jukely, the concert subscription service that I swear I will write a blog post about one day, I had to pick up a ticket immediately. While I’m hardly a massive Wyclef fan, his song, “We Tryin to Stay Alive” is an 11 on my nostalgia scale. I was part of a dance group called TDC (Tufts Dance Collective) in college and my friend and I choreographed a fun, disco-y dance to this song that tried to pay proper homage to the Bee Gees’ “Stayin Alive,” the song Wyclef draws from. I will always look back on TDC rehearsals and shows as some of my favorite college memories, and so I was crossing my fingers that I’d get to hear “We Tryin to Stay Alive,” well, live.

Usually when I walk into a show there’s a little bit of an adjustment period. Figure out what to do with my coat. Maybe get a beer. Find a spot in the crowd. Slowly but surely get into the groove of the evening. Maybe it’s because I arrived after Wyclef had already taken the stage, but the impact on me was immediate. A minute after I stepped into Brooklyn Bowl I was already thinking, “This show is way more fun than I thought it would be.”

Wyclef’s energy was absolutely incredible, and he brought the audience right along with him. When he spotted a pocket of people in the front not dancing hard enough, he had no problem telling them to, “Go to the fucking back.”

He sang, he danced, he rapped, he played multiple instruments. He climbed on stuff, he stagedived (stagedove?). He graced us with an incredibly moving 15 minute a cappella freestyle about his childhood, his career, and the myriad of social injustices facing our world today.

The set list wove in and out of his own songs, featuring tracks from his award-winning album, “The Carnival,” as well as some Fugees hits (“Killing Me Softly,” obviously). Wyclef looped in other artists’ works that I didn’t even know I wanted to hear at that moment – House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy,” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” are a few that come to mind. As a Haiti native, he managed to weave it all together with reggae beats and made it a consistent upbeat dance party.

Most importantly, perhaps, Wyclef played the song I wanted him to play!

And even though he didn’t play the whole song, he did segue halfway through into a great version of “Guantanamera,” so I’m okay with it.

Wyclef is hitting Brooklyn Bowl again next Tuesday night and I am seriously debating trying to go again. Even though it’s only March, I can already tell this will be on my top 10 list for best shows of 2016.