Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Electronic Sound Spectrum this Thursday @ Proof Bar!

 photo ESSFEB2013_zpsb31c568e.jpeg

Blundertown presents: The Orwells, Pangea, The Shrills and Zig Zags @ Unit B Skatepark in Santa Ana on 2/20/13

DJ Cow in a Shoe Store, the host of Bruised and Confused airing Thursdays 2:00-4:00pm, recently saw The Orwells, Pangea, The Shrills and Zig Zags at Unit B Skatepark in Santa Ana on February 20, 2013. Her show review and photos are below. For more from DJ Cow in a Shoe Store visit http://bruised-and-confused.kuci.org/.

 photo DSC_0004_zps54ccd4a9.jpg
The Shrills

On February 20th, The Orwells played with Pangea, The Shrills, and Zig Zags at Unit B Skatepark in Santa Ana. If you live in the area and are not familiar with the venue, I highly recommend you check it out. It’s a fairly new warehouse skatepark with 3 bowls and a stage. And it’s located just a few blocks away from The Observatory (smells like competition). You are allowed to skate while the bands play, which is rad because it just makes it more of a dangerous place to be. In other words, you can either get hurt skating in a bowl, or get hurt in the mosh pit by the stage. 
The Shrills played first, but unlike other shows they play, their faces were not painted black this time, which I preferred since we could see their beautiful faces. As more people started coming in, Pangea set up their equipment and it was party time. The crowd went wild, pushing and shoving into each other to the froggy voice of the lead singer, William Keegan. When The Orwells started playing, everyone was already enthused. They put on a great show, and entertained us with the lead singer climbing on the terrace on top of the stage and hanging upside down like a monkey. That was definitely my favorite part of the show.

 photo DSC_0012_zps3f422167.jpg

 photo DSC_0060_zps4b143fa7.jpg

 photo DSC_0061_zpsbe6a8942.jpg
The Orwells

UMO, Foxygen and Wampire @The Constellation Room 2/14/2013

Josh the host of the Noodle Incident, airing Friday's 2:00-4:00am, recently saw UMO, Foxygen and Wampire at the The Constellation Room on February 14, 2013. You can find his concert review below. The Foxygen and UMO photos were taken by Adrian the host of 60 Cycle Hum, airing Thursday's 12:00-2:00pm.

The Observatory has slowly but surely established itself as a bastion of independent music in a culture deprived OC, presumably providing bands both superlatively appreciative audiences and a break from the hustle and bustle of LA. Labelmates Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Foxygen, then, serve as the latest in a string of recent killer shows hosted by the venue, dropping by The Constellation Room on the second stop of their US tour.

The night began with a quick set by opening act, Wampire, whose hazy drawl and restrained, melodic guitar licks left them occupying the same laid-back airspace as Kurt Vile, if he were to trade in his reverb pedals for overdrive – though the comparison may ultimately have more to do with frontman Eric Phipp’s similarly billowing, shagged out locks.

 photo Foxygen2_zps21d780cb.jpg

One broken down tour van induced delay later, and Foxygen took the stage. Fresh off the success of breakthrough sophomore effort We are the 21st Century of Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (though they’ve been a part of the LA music scene for much longer), the band started with a playful instrumental from that album before launching into a few songs from their more scattershot debut Take the Kids Off Broadway. The show didn’t really coalesce until a string of We are album highlights (there are many) was initiated with earworm ballad San Francisco. From then on, the 22 year old duo of Sam France and Jonathan Rado (accompanied by three other players) commanded the tightly packed room with a charismatic swagger that read far beyond their baby-faced years – ensuring the audience never left a state of anything less than sweaty fervor.

 photo Foxygen1_zpsa0ffb25d.jpg

Clad in garb of the same 60s-indebted aesthetic they largely owe their sound to, with some admittedly amusing stage banter (they introduced themselves as Foxygen and Starpower, for starters): the self-aware theatrics perfectly translated onto the stage the goofily endearing charm of their full length. The one and only disappointment of the set stemmed from an absence of fan-favorite No Destruction, depriving the crowd an opportunity to shout along the lyrical gem, “There’s no need to be an asshole, you’re not in Brooklyn anymore.” Though any doubts were soon washed away after a small child scurried on stage, with the help of his dad, to deliver a bouquet of Valentine’s Day roses to the tambourine-wielding chanteuse of the group – eliciting a huge hug from the singer and cementing his place as the coolest/most adorable member of the audience that night by far.

 photo UMO2_zpsd58ed9a9.jpg

Next up was Unknown Mortal Orchestra. For a band that emerged from complete obscurity a little over two years ago, the New Zealand by way of Portland outfit’s psychedelic hooks feel eerily essential. UMO represent the antithesis of empty internet hype, after the discovery of a few singles posted to a Bandcamp page propelled the act from merely Unknown to cream-of-the-blog-crop by the time they released their self-titled debut in 2011.

This merit-based, image-averse ascension is reflected in the band’s easygoing confidence, lilting on stage without much fanfare, or even an introduction, before breezing through a series of tunes that best distill their signature interplay of fuzzed out, distorted-to-the-max guitar, androgynously purred vocal harmonies and funky percussion. The three-piece followed this with a progression of minutes-long guitar jams, leaning perhaps a bit too heavily on their psychedelic roots; a criticism that can be extended to their newly released album, II, as a whole. True to the progression of that album, however, the set ended with another series of tunes that best showcase UMO’s penchant for indelible song craft; including a one-two punch of their two best songs, Ffunny Ffriends and So Good at Being in Trouble.

 photo UMO1_zps58bf50e3.jpg

Though no encore was performed, it’s worth noting that drummer, Riley Geare, still managed to end the show on his bum after a genuinely awesome freak-out following show and Unknown highlight, Boy Witch.

Both II and (deep breath) We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic come highly recommended; each is available digitally and physically on iTunes or at your local record store.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

El Ten Eleven @ Constellation Room on January 24, 2013 - A Night of Standing

DB, a co-host of the program Party at Gatsby's airing Tuesday's 6:00-8:00am, recently saw El Ten Eleven at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana on January 24, 2013. You can find her concert review below. For more from DB visit http://lepartyatgatsbys.tumblr.com/. All photos taken by Adrian Garcia, the host of 60 Cycle Hum airing Thursday's 12:00-2:00pm.


     El Ten Eleven made a local stop at The Constellation Room in Santa Ana on January 24 as part of their Winter Tour 2013, promotionally for their October 2012 release, Transitions. Nestled next to The Observatory, the duo managed to gather up a fairly large crowd despite the neighboring Led Zeppelin Tribute show. This, somehow, gave them the mindset that it was permissible for them to leave fans sitting through two opening acts lasting close to three hours before they finally made their appearance. However, it still proved to be a great performance, various lights and cinematic accompaniment overall creating an intense ambiance that allowed fans to truly immerse themselves in the post-rock stylings of Tim Fogarty and Kristian Dunn. Dunn was continuously switching from double neck to single neck guitars, adding to the talent that that two clearly displayed throughout the two hour set. Dunn had a respectable on-stage presence, regularly thanking the audience for being there and creating an energy that demanded their attention. Fogarty, on the other hand, decided to lie back and let Dunn do the talking, but that didn’t stop him from pounding on his drums and playing with the synthesizer as if his life depended on it. Together, they established a consistent rthymn with each other that one could tell they had worked on for years to develop. The night was a success, and every song from Transitions to Jumping Frenchmen of Maid (cinematic accompaniment involving fight scenes from old movies set the mood for this one) was performed at full throttle. I definitely lost track of what point in their songs we’d be at during certain moments, but the red-headed, lanky groupie dancing his heart away reminded me, in a way, that it did not really matter. It was what was playing right in that moment that mattered.


The Easy Mistakes show @ Anthill Pub & Grille on Friday, Feb. 8

Mr. Green Genes, the host of Please Hold Your Applause Wednesday's 6:00-8:00am, will be performing with his band The Easy Mistakes at the Anthill Pub & Grille in the UCI student center Friday Feb. 8 at 8 PM. The show is free, parking is $2/hr.

Playing mostly eclectic rock, the versatile three-piece band also plays ska, reggae, RnB, and hip-hop. Three hour set includes covers and originals, with a number of special musical guests. 

You can find more from The Easy Mistakes on their Facebook Event Page

Zion I at the El Rey, 12/14/12

Bret Weinberger, a reporter for KUCI News, attended the Zion I concert at the El Rey on December 14, 2012. Bret's concert review and photos from the show are below. For more from Bret visit kuci.news.org.


I saw Bay Area hip-hop duo Zion I perform at the El Rey Theater in December. They were in LA on their ShadowBoxing tour with DJs Free the Robots and Minnesota. For those of you who don’t know, Zion I is comprised of AmpLive—the beat maker, and Zumbi—the rhyme spitter.  AmpLive’s DJ style is among the more unique in the rap world. His tunes are heavily electronic, and feature less thumping bass than your average Dre or Jay-Z single. He tends to infuse his rap beats with cutting edge electronic mixes, so that Zion I songs sometime sound more like something you’d hear at a rave rather than at Rock the Bells. Zumbi is known for his distinct voice; which, like the music he raps over, isn’t as deep or booming as his colleagues’, but rather edgy and, for lack of a better word, flow-y. His voice is kind of raspy too, giving it a more human feel; and he raps fast, keeping one rhyme on the heel of the other. Their overall sound is pretty hard to describe—despite my best efforts—so just check out their latest music video (featured below) to get a real sense of it.

Anyway I went to their show at the El Rey Theater on Wilshire Boulevard, a nice intimate venue I’ve found myself at more than a few times. There were about fifty or so people already there when my friend and I arrived. Most of them were just hanging out on the comfortable side-benches on the wings of the theater, waiting for the opening act to start. I talked to a couple guys from Minnesota who were at the show to see, well, Minnesota—literally because of the name. I guess after living in LA for four months these guys were homesick (Minnesota is from Santa Cruz, CALIFORNIA). I asked them if they had ever heard of Zion I, but they said no. As rap fans they were still eager to check them out, though.


Then I talked to an interesting looking fellow who was dancing by himself in the middle of the floor. The man had long messy black hair pulled back into a ponytail and was caring a backpack; he looked like a mix between a raver and a recent college grad in the middle of a solo tour of Europe. He told me he was a big Zion I fan but that this was his first show. I asked him what exactly he found so compelling about Zion I. He said:
“[Zumbi] is very deep. I’m a poet myself. He’s very spiritual. I like how he talks about what’s going on in the world and the human spirit, while everybody else is just worried about shaking their ass.”

He added that “One Chance” off of their 2005 album True & Livin’ was his favorite song by them.

Right about then the night’s first performer, Free the Robots (http://freetherobots.org/) stepped on stage. The venue got dark and everyone made their way to the front of the room. The music hall was nowhere near as packed as I’ve seen it before, so it was easy to get right up next to the stage and dance wildly when the hip-hop DJ started his set. He played his beats off of his Ableton as he rapped over them, making a lot of references to California life (his real name is Chris Alfaro and he’s from Santa Ana) and the pains of growing up.  One of his most memorable raps was about turning 18 and fighting the pressure to pursue a road to success at the expense of happiness. The highlight of his 45-minute set was probably when he threw on a remix of the theme of Nickelodeon’s classic show “All That.” Everybody went wild when the chorus played.

After Free the Robot finished his set, I roamed around the theater again, and made my way to the merch table in the back. I introduced myself to the guy selling T-shirts and records; his name was Jesse and he told me he had been touring with Zion I since October. He was a big fan of the duo—saying getting to know them was a “dream come true” since he idolized them as a teen growing up in Fremont. He said he liked the way they represented Bay Area hip-hop and kept their messages positive; telling me, “what they speak on is something that kids should listen to.” It’s important enough to mention that the show was on the same day as the tragic Newtown school massacre; in light of this, Jesse said he felt proud to be associated with a group that didn’t “glorify guns and violence” but rather talked about real issues in a serious manner. Or, as he put it, rapped “like the 90s, straight spitting.”

After about twenty minutes between acts Zion I took the stage. First AmpLive came out and introduced himself to LA, and deejayed for a couple of minutes before his rapper appeared. Then Zumbi suddenly came out in a rice paddy hat, mic in hand, waving his hands around like a true shadowboxer. He started rapping right away, and was accompanied by another MC, Deuce Eclipse. They started with jams off the new record, including the title track and “Trapped Out.” The show was stopped halfway through for a minute because a drunk girl had unplugged some wires from the front of the stage, turning off Zumbi’s mic. After the cord was put back in and the rapper got over his disbelief of what just happened, AmpLive threw on the backbeat to their hit “Coastin’” off of their 2009 album The Takeover. That was definitely one of the cooler moments of the show; it was great to see everyone bouncing and swaying to the beat of that song.

Zumbi stopped a few times in between tracks to talk to the crowd. There still weren’t many people—75 at most—so it really felt like a personal show. The lights were on, so like he told us, there was no way “we can hide in the middle of the crowd amongst the masses.” He showed us some dance moves he wanted us to do, like flapping our arms out “like a wing and slap[ping] our hands to the beat.” He also instructed the crowd to spark up and get high while they played, but unfortunately the El Rey security team didn’t think that was a good idea. There was a definite energy in the crowd typical of hip-hop shows, but amplified by connection we could feel with the performers.


Toward the end of their set—I would say the climax of the show—AmpLive came out from behind his DJ setup and busted out his homemade MPC guitar. The musical machine, pictured here, is an actual MPC studio (a brand of electronic DJ gear, feel free to google it) attached to a neck of a guitar, which is lined with a series of knobs and buttons that control the machine. So when he played, he was basically deejaying with a guitar. It looked super cool, and gave him the opportunity to a rock star style solo. Except the sounds coming out of the instrument were like nothing you would ever hear at an Eric Clapton concert.

The show ended with “Don’t Lose Your Head,” the energetic anthem from their 2007 EP Street Legends. We all partied until the end of the song, which met a hail of cheers and yelling of “Come back soon!” Amp and Zumbi stayed on stage waving to the crowd and talking to whoever approached the stage.

When the lights turned on, I talked to a couple of guys who were standing next to me about what we just saw. One of them was from New York, and said he really felt like Zion I represented what was unique about West Coast hip-hop: staying on the cutting edge of production, incorporating elements of different genres into the classic hip-hop sound, and also the strong relationship between producer and MC that so many California groups revolve around.

Unfortunately due to an issue involving my friend and some keys gone missing we had to leave the El Rey before Minnesota performed. But that wasn’t before I got to go up to Zumbi and congratulate him on the show; he was a real nice guy, and told me he’d be glad to see me at the next show he plays in town. On that note, my buddy and I headed home.

Check out this video the Zion I Crew made for the ShadowBoxing Tour; it gives a pretty good insight into the style of their shows and their general personas. Free the Robots and Minnesota are in the video too.