The Most Relevant Coachella Performance You Probably Missed: Ezra Furman

By Kyle Heise

The first Youtube comment reads “It was hot and early in the day...”  And I’m sure it was. Now, I didn’t attend the festival held in the desert out in Indio, but I can imagine the hardcore festival go-ers were not up early to see San Francisco-via-Chicago transplant Ezra Furman give the most relevant monologue of the festival. Angled shots of the crowd confirm the scant attendance. But that doesn’t stop Ezra, a gender fluid punk rocker dressed in a black dress,  pearls and hot red lipstick, from dropping some very real and apparent truths towards the beginning of his set. Furman began speaking “isn’t this a joyful kind of music” as the drums kicked in to his strident track “Tell ‘Em All to Go to Hell”, adding “it’s about frustration, I’d say.” The saxophone began tooting and Furman drizzled into riffing across the stage.

As the song breaks down into heavy breathing and what Furman describes as a “good B-flat rhythm,” Furman unloaded a heartfelt monologue to the crowd. He prefaced by dedicating the song to the parent company of Coachella, AEG, and its owner Philip Anschutz. Coachella is owned by Golden Voice, who is owned by major conglomerate AEG, Anschutz Entertainment Group. What followed was a scathingly powerful, yet very real truth about Coachella and consumerism.

What many people overlook in regards to the festival’s past is that its roots began in 1993 as a free concert put on by Pearl Jam against the service charges added on top of regular ticket prices by Ticketmaster. Following a public tussle, the band opted to play far out in the desert for free rather than play in LA proper and subject their fans to the service fees. Fast forward over two decades laters Now the festival is one of the most corporatized events in California each year; Hollywood loves to hire and pay people to attend to help market themselves. It’s almost less about the music and more about taking a sweaty and delirious photo in the desert. The festival even went full corporate minion in 2012 by spreading the festival over two weekends under the guise of better attendee experience. Safe to say, profit margins drove that decision.

And money does drive our society, says Furman in his attack against his “main man” Anschutz. Furman begins by explaining Anschutz is the “son of an oil tycoon, oil tycoon himself” and describes him as a complicated man who is “big proponent of wind energy” and has dabbled in “highly invasive” oil exploits. Easy to see that Furman recognizes power in Anschutz and his role in the Establishment. Furman belts that Anschutz “sues towns” that refuse to allow him to frack in there and paints a powerful image of Anschutz’ ambitions. But Furman also hints at knowing the history of the festival and how money (or in Pearl Jam’s case lack of it) can make a statement.

Furman, himself, a member of the LGBT+ community, revealed Anschutz donates wildly to anti-LGBT+ causes and far-right Christian groups. “So,” Ezra says addressing a crowd most likely in support of his side of the cause, the “triple-digits” (certainly many people spent thousands) paid to attend the festival “line billionaires pockets, do you understand?” He’s reminding the audience that they made a choice to attend the festival and are fortunate enough to have the funds to be there. In our modern consumer American society, money is speech. And Furman concurs. In turn he essentially told the audience how spending money is how we express our political beliefs in the modern society: “You do have a say in that shit,” he remarks. And it’s entirely true. So, when AEG and Anschutz or whoever the corporate tycoon is who markets products ignores “the values you [the consumer] profess to try to live by,” Furman delivers some telltale advice with just “seven little words:” Tell ‘em all to go to hell. Don’t remain silent and realize that your money can actually be used to fight back. Just like Pearl Jam decided to opt away, so can consumers. I don’t think Furman is suggesting people skip attendance of the festival. On the contrary, I think he is just reminding people of the matrix in which money is entangled these days and that your money can be speech in regards to many contemporary issues. As if we didn’t realize, Furman reminds us midway through his monologue: “It’s protest music.” Yes indeed, Ezra: you tell ‘em; keep telling us all the truths we need to hear.

Shows to see before 2017

2016 has been a rough year for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. But there is still time to get out a see a show before the ball drops. Here are some options to wet your appetite. 


Stevie Nicks (Wednesday, December 14th, SAP Center, San Jose)


G-Eazy (Wednesday, December 14th, Oracle Arena, Oakland)


The Expendables (Saturday, Decebmer 17th, The Catalyst, Santa Cruz)


Trey Songz (Sunday, December 18th, Oracle Arena, Oakland)


Kodak Black (Wednesday, December 21st, Regency Ballroom, San Francisco)


Too $hort (Friday, December 23rd, 1015 Folsom, San Francisco)


Chuck Prophet (New Year's Eve, The Starry Plough, Berkeley)

"Don't Let Your Heart Stray" - The Fame Riot's first national tour pulses with love, energy

Shazam (on keyboard) and Liz leave it all out onstage every night on tour. (photos courtesy of thefameriot.com)

By Connor Buestad | connor@section925.com

Deep in the middle of their first national tour, The Fame Riot visited San Francisco’s Neck of the Woods in the Richmond District on the last Sunday prior to Thanksgiving. The electro-pop/garage-rock sibling duo arrived in the Bay Area in their trusted 12 passenger van, short on sleep and long on caffeine and the dream of becoming bonafide rock stars. The Tacoma, Washington natives were opening for Radkey (a trio of brothers in their own right) and made sure to deliver a passionate, loud, emotional and memorable performance for the city they call their favorite behind only Seattle.

“People ask us if we’re twins and we say yes,” explains Liz Scarlett, the green-haired younger brother of the band at 21. Shazam Watkins, 24, is the elder statesman of the duo, and on this night he was donning red locks to accentuate his dark eye-liner. Their appearance is the first thing you notice about The Fame Riot, aside from perhaps the music itself. But it all seems to tie in together nicely, as both brothers prove to be natural (and effective) showman both onstage and off.

Despite sporting different last names, “Liz” and “Shazam” are more family oriented than you might initially imagine. “Both of our parents are ministers and leaders in their church. They are both great people,” explains Liz. “We also have three older brothers, and yeah they’re all married. We’re like the reckless twins at the end of the tale.”

Part of the brothers’ recklessness can be traced back to their family’s decision to home school Liz and Shazam rather than send them to the potentially mind-numbing endeavor that is American high school. “We said ‘fuck the system,’” explains Liz in a matter-of-fact tone, with a smile on his face. “The system is fucked and we stayed out of it. And I think we benefited from that decision. I wish more people could do the same.”

Liz melting faces. 

Their teenage years spent outside the confines of “The System” were clearly not wasted, as both boys dove headlong into creative pursuits both in music, fashion and beyond, all more or less free of distraction. The result is a pair of brothers with more positive and passionate energy than normal, who seem most at ease when they are living a life as eclectic and original as possible.

By the time Liz and Shazam were approaching college age, the brothers had scrapped their gigs at the church and began showing their true colors, both literally and figuratively. Inspired by the bands they weren’t supposed to be listening to, the brothers began emulating various flavors of bad boy rock and rollers. Ones that stood for something bigger than themselves and made people think, move, and feel.

In 2014, after years in their garage, the brothers dropped their first EP, titled Dust Funk, complete with seven songs that have a way of waking you up and pulsing through your body in a positive way. Two years later, another couple songs were added to the original EP, giving the pair enough material to set off on their first coast-to-coast tour. “Heart Stray” is The Fame Riot’s current single in circulation, which has been a hit on the radio in the least likeliest of places (Kansas City, Missouri, etcetera).

In quiet conversation, the brothers are as intellectual and articulate as you could ever want when you’re dealing with a pair of budding rockstars. Self-proclaimed people who “won’t talk about politics,” Liz and Shazam are easily suckerd into providing insightful ideas on the direction of America since the travesty of Trump’s election. “Let’s stop talking about fucking politics,” says Shazam in his effective analysis of the mainstream media or “MSM” as he un-fondly calls it.  

Brothers feeling the love.

Onstage, The Fame Riot is not afraid to speak in British accents to go along with their edgy choice in attire. To them, the event and show is just as important as the music itself. They explain that “coming to the Fame Riot” is a highly charged event spurred on by the people in the room listening to the music. “It’s a show because of the people that are there,” says Liz in all sincerity.

Despite a small crowd of loyal listeners on this fogged in Sunday, these brothers certainly brought The Fame Riot to San Francisco. Shazam steadily bounced around on the keyboard, his muscular face rarely visible behind his extravagant mane of hair. Liz shredded on the guitar from start to finish, with each song bringing a fresh burst of loud energy that the crowd couldn’t help but feel and respond to.

By the time the set was finished, there was no wonder why this band is continuing to ascend to new heights within their genre. Yes, they’ve already been featured in studio on the famed KEXP radio in Seattle and have shared the stage with GroupLove and Chromeo, but the time is now where they are getting to spread their wings across the U.S. and share their energetic showmanship on a nightly basis.  

“The people we’ve met has been the biggest surprise on tour so far. So many people have stepped up and taken us in, setting us up with a place to crash and get ready for the next night’s show. Friends of friends, distant cousins, you name it,” explains Shazam. “This is like our demo tour, we are learning a lot. It’s not easy playing with that much emotion every night. Teas, essential oils, eating healthy, we are doing everything we can.”

Although the duo is willing to admit the hardships of touring on a shoestring budget, their passionate outlook on their music and the world at large easily keep their fire fueled. And while their music has strayed far from the confines of American churches or poetry found in classrooms, the intent is similar. “Strip the skin off of us and we’re all the same. We just want to make music that inspires people,” says Shazam. Spend a night at The Fame Riot and you might find you’ll see more than just a show. It runs much deeper than that.  

Radkey and The Fame Riot set to play San Francisco November 20th

By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com

This Sunday, Neck of the Woods on Clement street in SF will be hosting a night of music with Radkey (a garage-punk trio made up of three brothers) and their opener The Fame Riot (an alternative-pop duo). The intimate San Francisco setting should provide a loud and energized vibe for these two up-and-coming bands.

Radkey is comprised of brothers Dee Radke on guitar/vocals, Isiaiah Radke III on bass/vocals and Solomon Radke on drums. Solomon is the baby of the family at just 19, while Dee heads up the cast at age 23. The band produces a brand of energetic punk rock inspired by their musically inclined father. As they now start to come into their own, the band has enjoyed success at music festivals across the pond and back including the Reading and Leads Festival and the Download Festival in the UK, not to mention Riot Fest and Coachella back stateside.

Meanwhile, alternative-pop duo The Fame Riot comes to SF supporting their new single, “Heart Stray.” Liz Scarlett and Shazam “Tea Time” Watkins make up the duo who ironically stem from minister parents. The pair is far from buttoned up on stage, instead pursuing a persona of gender-fluidity and eccentric fashion that their growing fan base has learned to love. The Fame Riot has recently shared the stage with big names including Chromeo, Grouplove and DJ Shadow just to name a few. And as the band continues to pump out catchy pop records, expect this list to continue to grow.   

Damien Jurado plays Swedish American Hall in SF on October 21st

"Working Titles"

You could mess up my life in a poem
Have me divorced by the time of the chorus
There's no need to change any sentence
When you always decide where I go next

Many nights you would hide from the audience
When they were not in tune with your progress
In the end you're a fool like the journalist
Who turns what you sing into business

You could use to be more like a hero
A darker shade of damage distortion
Wearing death like a cape or a costume
Cut your ties and leave town when you want to

Killing time 'til I pass through the chamber
Or the room you keep my replacement
so fed up, still you're starving on paper
You're no him, but he's you, only better

Leave me an exit to damage
I could use a ledge to jump off of
I wasn't lying when I said this was over
I have questions that lead to more questions

Running time that will cut off my fingers
You wrote about me on every new record
And I'll show up in a title of your song
I only hope somebody requests it

What's it like for you in Washington
I've only seen photos of Washington
I'll never know

Leave me Manhattan, I want the evergreens
Write me a song I can sing in my sleep
As sure as the rain that will fall where you stand
I want you and the skyline, these are my demands

What's it like for you in Washington
I've only seen photos of Washington
I'll never know, know

Hercules' own HBK Gang plays The Warfield

(Photo via hbkiamsu.com)

By Mikhil Chemburkar

Last Saturday night in San Francisco, The Heartbreak (HBK) Gang took 2,250 apmed-up concert goers at The Warfield on a one-way ticket to Shmop City. Liveliness was tangible on the warm night by the Bay, beginning with the line outside the venue, all the way to the very end of the event. Show openers (and Bay Area natives) Dave Steezy, Skipper, and Show Banga had the crowd on their side and feeling their high energy performances.

The chemistry on display during and between acts was unsurprising to anyone who knows the origins of the HBK Gang. The hip-hop collective, created in 2008 is mostly comprised of friends who met while going to Pinole Valley High School. It seemed that they knew just when excitement would peak because just at the right time, a wild Kool John came out with guest performer Lil Yee, delighting the crowd. By the time Iamsu! came on with his surprise guest Nef the Pharoah, the standing crowd more resembled an amusement park ride than a concert.

The crowded venue was engulfed by convergent vibrations from massive subwoofers, slapping speakers, and a sea of fans moving to hits like Mobbin ,  I Love My Squad, and Only That Real, just to name a few. Thankfully, Su played a number of songs off of older mixtapes Kilt (2012), Suzy 6 Speed (2012) and  Million Dollar Afro (2013) along with showing off his newest album Kilt 3 (2016). I have been an Iamsu! fan for the past few years but to be perfectly honest I was disappointed by his newest album.

As someone who’s relatively familiar with his work, I can see how this concert would be disorienting for those unfamiliar with HBK’s music.  For this very reason, I think The Warfield makes for a stupendous venue for any type of show-goer seeing most types of perfrormances. While floor admission tickets provide a more intimate environment, the multi-balcony seating allows for attendees to kick back, relax, and perhaps enjoy a beverage from the full-service bar. All in all, the biggest show of the #Iamsummer Tour was an extremely good time, and The Warfield was an awesome place to see it. 

I fully endorse anyone to check out The Warfield, Iamsu! (and/or the rest of HBK Gang) if you are lucky enough to have a chance. Here are links to some of the gang’s Instagrams (davesteezy, k00lj0hn, showy4mayor, heartbreakskipper) (here is a link to upcoming Iamsu! shows throughout the Bay.) Enjoy!

Four things I learned during my first trip to Outside Lands

The scene above Golden Gate Park at OSL2016. (photo by Ray Chavez)

By Harrison Laver | @Harrison_Laver

Friday, August 5th was my first time at Outside Lands and my first major festival experience.  Being one of the most hyped events in California, Outside Lands was something I had long wanted to check out. After some proper pre-gaming in the Lower Haight neighborhood of SF, our group headed over to the event, and it was there that I learned four important things about this iconic Northern California festival in the foggy/sunny/foggy grounds of Golden Gate Park.    


1. Lines are everywhere, but can often be bypassed

My initial impression was this: there are a lot of people here.  To be more precise, one metric shit-ton of people (70,000 attendees on Friday).  At first glance, the line to enter the south side of the park seemed to be a massive group that had gathered to witness a speaker or something.  But it was indeed the line to enter OSL.  According to a police officer that we spoke with on the other side, the festival had received several threats and the FBI advised a thorough search of each backpack and bag that entered the grounds, which created a huge backup.  Once we finally got inside, there was one thing on our minds: beer.  And there’s a line for that.  But we needed 21+ wristbands as well, and there’s a line for that too.  This is the first thing I learned about OSL; there are lines everywhere.  However, if you plan accordingly and are willing to do a little walking, there often are ways to skip the lines.  

Gaps in artist set times often create a lot of people moving from one stage to another.  If you can time it right, you can arrive at an area of the festival that has minimal people, and therefore minimal lines.  I found that the timing was best around 15-20 mins after an artist had finished their set, or right smack dab in the middle of the set while most people are close to the stage (excluding the main stage, which more or less had big lines for the entirety of the festival).  Also, there seemed to be food and drink areas of the park that were a bit tucked away and didn’t have the crowds that some of the more popular areas had, which made them much more approachable.

2. Make a plan beforehand

One of the issues I faced was not knowing the lineup very well, so coordinating between stages and artists proved to be a challenge, and I ended up missing a few acts that I would have loved to see.  It was my first experience at a big festival so it was a little hard to wrap my head around the whole ordeal, and the fact that I was part of a large group made it a bit more difficult to organize.  So, I would suggest making a plan before you arrive at the festival in order to maximize the amount of artists you’d like to see.  Regardless, my group made it right up in front of the main stage to see Duran Duran and LCD Soundsystem, and both bands absolutely killed it.  I had no idea that Duran Duran had so many hits, and he was cranking them out in a distinctively classy and bold style.  And if you don’t already know, LCD Soundsystem live is pure euphoria.  

LCD Soundsystem returns to their old form in SF. (photo by Ray Chavez)

3. Golden Gate Park is a man made park

I had no idea.  Apparently the story is this (thanks Vince and Wikipedia): In the 1860’s, the public of San Francisco voiced a desire for a large public area, much like Central Park in New York which was in the process of being created at that time.  The area in which Golden Gate Park stands was a large plot of sand dunes known as the “Outside Lands.”  It almost became a racetrack under the lobbying of four millionaires, but thankfully the area was placed under the care of John McLaren, a world renowned horticulturist.   60,000 eucalyptus, pine, and cypress trees were planted to stabilize the dunes and create the park landscape.  In 1903 the Dutch style windmills were constructed to pump water throughout the park.  Golden Gate Park is effectively 20% larger than Central Park, which is further evidence that the West Coast is the best coast.  

4. It’s expensive, but worth the experience

It’s like a baseball game.  You purchase your tickets, but that’s only scraping the surface of the spending.  Once you’re there, you’re buying $11 Bud Lights and $8 nachos, and before you know it you’ve spent well beyond the ticket prices.  But all in all, you got drunk with friends, watched a great ball game, and had a blast.  

Outside lands is much of the same.  Except you may not spend more than your ticket price because those are pretty costly.  If you have the extra cash to spend, and are looking for an awesome weekend with an awesome festival experience, then OSL is definitely worth it.  I must have spent an upwards of $300 on food and drinks over the two days I was there, but I still walked away extremely satisfied.  Sitting on the warm grassy hillside of the Sutro Stage watching Foals deliver their dreamy indie rock, and seeing my friend DJ Grensta absolutely destroy the decks in the Heineken Dome on Sunday made it a weekend that I will never forget.  Don’t miss Outside Lands 2017!

Portugal. The Man outshines Cage the Elephant at the Bill Graham Civic

Matt Shultz of Cage The Elephant (photo by Carly Robinson)

By Stephanie Sockel | @poams

Cage The Elephant has the CD you want, but save your concert money for the festivals.  No doubt, this Kentucky band rocks the radio and the headphones.  However, the performance at the Bill Graham Civic Center ended up falling a bit short.  The acrobatic show from the lead singer, Matthew Schutz, was not enough to carry the lack of depth of sound performed on Thursday night.  The show’s energy brought about a bit of 1997 Lollapalooza with all the crowd surfing and their pop punk influences, but the audible aspect of the concert was left flat.    

If the sound was the problem, it would have resonated true for the previous band, Portugal. The Man, who gave the audience a full progressive rock experience.  Portugal’s psychedelic sound was enough to pull you back a few decades and leave you wanting more without feeling a lack for the current state of music.  Portugal's sound was drenched in Pink Floyd undertones, yet the performance held on to current sounds beautifully.  It was easy to feel as if one was swimming in the sea of conceptual guitar riffs and dreamy keyboards without being stale or trite.  So sonic was the mood that closing the eyes transported you into a world of colors competing closely with the light show. 

Cage the Elephant belongs in your iTunes Playlist.  However, this was definitely a show for the early arrivers.  Bill Graham is a massive venue with a capacity of 5k+ and is no easy feat for sound.  If you go to a show, don’t bother with the seats, but rather wear comfy shoes and stand on the floor for the better experience. 

Do It: Playlist Cage the Elephant and Portugal. The Man. 

Wait for It: Cage The Elephant at a festival. Get the bang for your buck or try them in a smaller venue.

Don’t do It: Miss Portugal. The Man. when they come to town next. 

The boys of Portugal. The Man (photo by Shealin Ritter

Chance The Rapper rises to a new level with his mixtape: "Coloring Book"

I speak of wondrous unfamiliar lessons from childhood / Make you remember how to smile good / I’m pre-currency, post-language, anti-label / Pro-famous, I’m Broadway Joe Namath / Kanye’s best prodigy / He ain’t signed me but he proud of me / I got some ideas that you gotta see
— Blessings (Reprise)

By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com

The one and only time I’ve seen Chance The Rapper perform came as a complete surprise. It was at the halftime intermission of the Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB) poetry event in downtown Chicago, blocks away from where Chancelor “Chance” Bennett attended Jones College Prep. There was only time for three songs, but that was all I needed to become entrenched as a fan.   

The largest youth slam poetry event in the world, LTAB attracts individuals and teams of poets from all corners of Chicago. High schoolers walk onstage at a sold-out theater every March and discuss the deepest, darkest, and most powerful emotions that their city and country can produce in a teenager. The diverse crowd hangs on every thought provoking verse. Standing ovations for the poets are the norm rather than the exception.

Surprisingly, Chance doesn’t have any LTAB hardware to his name, but he still found his way on the main stage as a 21-year-old adult. Equipped with his signature smile, the beaming ball of energy delighted the youthful poetry fans at the Arie Crown Theater when he revealed himself as the night’s special guest. Chicagoans reacted swiftly, flooding the aisles with their phones ready to record, jockeying for the best position to see their youthful city hero drop some poetic lines of his own. Not surprisingly, the high school contestants didn't seem to mind him stealing the show.

True to form, Chance mixed energy, positivity, and fun/catchy lyrics to give the crowd something meaningful to latch onto. With various areas of Chicago beleaguered by guns, drugs, and overall strife, Chance seemed to know full well that his city needed his positive vibes, and he was there to deliver.

--

(photo by Dave Kotinsky)

Chance The Rapper released his third mixtape on Friday, May 13, titled Coloring Book. The working title of the 14 song mixtape was Chance 3 (hence the album cover), but in the 11th hour, his fans were presented with a coloring book instead, and a lovely one at that.

Highly regarded by the hip-hop community and beyond, Coloring Book is already being talked about as a classic. Drake, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar have all gotten their just do as of late, and rightfully so, but with Coloring Book, Chance seems to have a place at the table as well when you speak about modern hip-hop artists. Industry titans Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Justin Bieber, Future, and Jay Electronica all cut out time to rap with Chance on this mixtape, not to mention the Chicago’s Children Choir, featured on the lead-off track “All We Got."

Pretty impressive stuff, when you consider Chance is still just a 23-year-old who doesn’t have a record deal and who lets his music play for free on the internet. His distinctive voice can be found on various other records across the industry as well, including Kanye’s February Life of Pablo album. His ability to seamlessly collaborate with so many other artists has, and will continue to pay off handsomely for him and his fans.

Coloring Book comes on the heels of Chance’s first two mixtapes, his debut, 10 Day, was released back in 2012 while Acid Rap came a year later in 2013. The inspiration for 10 Day grew out of a 10-day suspension that “Little Chano” received for marijuana possession during his senior year at Jones College Prep (a selective enrollment Chicago Public School located downtown). As legend has it, Chance’s time off from school proved productive as it gave him time to create 10 Day, effectively putting his musical career in motion. Songs like “Nostalgia” and “Brain Cells” have a melancholy way of drawing you in and keeping you there; all the while interested in what the 19-year-old has to say about the world surrounding him.

Acid Rapreleased in 2013, was the mixtape that made people really take notice of Chance, featuring song after song of raw talent and energy that makes it hard not to keep listening. "Paranoia," “Pusha Man,” “Acid Rain,” “Smoke Again,” and “Everybody’s Something” were just some of the songs that made a huge impression. Despite it being free, it still rose to no. 63 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart after being sold by unauthorized retailers.

Coloring Book, at least after a weekend of listening, looks to be Chance’s most complete effort to date. The mixtape starts off with “All We Got,” a thrilling intro that gets one locked in to listen to an hour of Chance dropping bars. “And we back, and we back, and we back,” proclaims Chance. “This ain’t no intro, this the entree,” he assures us. Chance raps about his girlfriend (the mother of his first and only child) as well as other topics. He also let’s Chicago’s finest, Kanye West do his thing, not to mention the Chicago Children’s Choir. Overall, it’s a great way to draw one into a mixtape.

On the second track, “No Problem,” Chance welcomes Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz into the fold, and neither disappoint. It’s the type of song that makes you want to blast it as loud as possible on the freeway with the windows down, without a care in the world. The song makes reference to the record labels that Chance has kept at a distance. “Countin’ Benji’s while we meetin’, make ‘em shake my other hand,” he shouts. As expected, Lil Wayne’s appearance is a head-turner. “Half a milli’ in the safe, another in the pillowcase, codeine got me movin’ slower than a caterpillar race,” sings Wayne.

“Summer Friends” is the third song, and has a sound that reminds me of a Bon Iver ballad. Chance describes his life growing up on 79th street on the South Side of Chicago. He paints the picture of a more innocent time in the city, with less guns and stronger family ties. “79th street was America then / Ice cream truck and the beauty supply / Blockbuster movies and Harold’s again / We still catching lightning bugs when the plague hit the backyard.”  

Coloring Book's seventh song, titled “Mix Tape” has the most catchy beat on the compilation. “Am I the only nigga still care about mixtapes?” asks Chance alongside Atlanta’s Young Thug. The defiant lyrics, once again challenging the setup of today's music industry, will keep your head bobbing throughout.

Buy this art print by Tyler Powers here

“Mix Tape” gives way to the single of Chance’s third release. “Angels” comes at you with an incredibly catchy, fast-moving beat, with lyrics that keep you engaged throughout. Chance speaks about the city that he’s from and what it means to him. “I got a city doing front flips / When every father, mayor, rapper jump ship / I guess that’s why they call it where I stay / Clean up the streets, so my daughter can have somewhere to play,” he demands.

It is interesting to hear Chance mention the Mayor’s office here. Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Obama’s former right hand man) has recently fired Chicago’s police chief over the Laquan McDonald tragedy. Moreover, Chance’s father, Ken Bennett, currently serves as Mayor Emanuel’s chief of staff.

“Smoke Break,” the mixtape’s 12th song, features perhaps the hottest rapper on the market, Future. The sound on this track is immaculate and was produced by UC Berkeley grad Garren Langford while he was simultaneously finishing his senior year as a Golden Bear.

The 14th and final song is "Blessings (reprise)." "Blessings" is also the fifth track, but the reprise is something else. The song is beautiful on many levels, from the sound, to the rhythm, to the lyrics. Chance paints the following picture in the opening verse, “I speak of promised lands / Soil as soft as momma’s hands / Running water, standing still / Endless fields of daffodils and chamomile.” Chance continues on, recounting his rise to stardom and his passion for his craft. “I used to dance to Michael, I used to dance in high school / I used to pass out music, I still pass out music / The people’s champ must be everything the people can’t be.” Finally, Chance finishes his best work yet with the following questions, “Are you ready for your blessings? Are you ready for your miracle?”

In a mixtape lasting less than an hour, Chance The Rapper has put out a piece of art that will be appreciated for quite sometime, both by his home city of Chicago and hip-hop fans from coast to coast. Chance has arrived as a major player in the rap game and with his youthful energy and obvious talent, it looks like he’s here to stay. On Sunday, August 7th, San Francisco will host him in Golden Gate Park. The Bay Area will be hanging on his every word.

Follow the Section925 Spotify Playlist to hear the bands coming to the Bay Area this summer

All of these great musicians are coming to play live in the Bay Area this summer. Listen to them below and click here for a direct link to follow this playlist. 

 

Donovan Frankenreiter - Friday, June 17th @ The Independent SF

Gregory Porter - Saturday, June 18th @ Fox Theater Oakland

Joe Pug - Saturday, July 9th @ The Independent SF

Widespread Panic - Thursday & Friday, July 14th & 15th @ Fox Theater Oakland

Wye Oak - Friday, July 15th @ Great American Music Hall SF

We Became Owls - Friday, July 15th @ Viracocha SF

Modest Mouse - Thursday, July 28th @ Greek Theater Berkeley

The National - Friday, July 29th @ Greek Theater Berkeley

Dej Loaf - Sunday, July 31st @ The Catalyst Santa Cruz

Atlas Genius - Thursday, August 4th @ The Catalyst Santa Cruz

J. Cole - Friday, August 5th @ Outside Lands Festival

LCD Soundsystem - Friday, August 5th @ Outside Lands Festival

Sufjan Stevens - Friday, August 5th @ Outside Lands Festival

Beach House - Friday, August 5th @ Outside Lands Festival

We Became Owls - Saturday, August 6th @ UC Berkeley

Radiohead - Saturday, August 6th @ Outside Lands Festival

Rogue WaveSaturday, August 6th @ Outside Lands Festival

Phantogram - Saturday, August 6th @ Outside Lands Festival

Chance The Rapper - Sunday, August 7th @ Outside Lands Festival

Ryan Adams - Sunday, August 7th @ Outside Lands Festival

Wavves - Monday, August 8th @ The Catalyst Santa Cruz  

Alabama Shakes - Friday & Saturday, August 12th & 13th @ Greek Theater Bekeley

Ben Harper - Wednesday, August 17th @ Greek Theater Berkeley

Tame Impala - Friday & Saturday, September 2nd & 3rd @ Greek Theater Berkeley

Wilco - September 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th @ The Fillmore SF

Ray LaMontagne - Friday, September 9th @ Greek Theater Berkeley

Andre Nickatina - Saturday, September 10th @ The Catalyst Santa Cruz

Drake + Future (Summer Sixteen Tour) - Tuesday & Wednesday, September 13th & 14th @ Oracle Arena Oakland

Local Natives - Saturday, September 17th @ Fox Theater Oakland

El Ten Eleven - Thursday, September 29th @ The Independent SF

The Head and the Heart - Saturday, October 8th @ Greek Theater Berkeley

Kaytranada tours his debut album, "99.9%"

Montreal's Kaytranada plays some cuts from his debut album 99.9% at his May 27th tour stop at MEZZANINE in SF. Toronto artist River Tiber was Kaytranada's opener. 

Tyler Blint-Welsh | @tbdubez

The transition from Soundcloud DJ into burgeoning mainstream artist isn’t an easy one. But don’t tell that to Kaytranada. Three-and-a-half years after his remix to Janet Jackson’s early 90’s hit “Ifturned Kay into an underground darling his debut project, 99.9%, is his declaration that he’s way more than a serial remixer. The fifteen track album features notably versatile and experimental artists like Syd, GoldLink, AlunaGeorge and Anderson.Paak and puts on display Kaytranada’s mastery behind the boards. With its synth heavy production, 99.9% is an upbeat, genre-defying journey that skillfully blends elements from his Afro-Caribbean upbringing and electronic music background while also showcasing the hip-hop production chops that have landed him tracks with artists like Mobb Deep, Mick Jenkins and Talib Kweli.

Though the album isn’t necessarily “about” anything other than sonic experimentation, Kaytranada's use of texture and tempos influence your mood on a track by track basis in a way that most LPs fail to. The unpredictable progressions on each of his cuts hold your attention and drag you along with it, whether the mood is somber, dreamy or has you wanting to hit the club and dance your heart out.

99.9% has an electronic undertone, but that doesn’t stop Kaytranada from utilizing instrumentation. With multiple standout drummers on the album, including fellow Canadians Karriem Riggins and Alexander Sowinski of Toronto jazz group BADBADNOTGOOD, Kay mostly uses percussion instruments to help add energy and life to what would otherwise be dreamy tracks that border along psychedelic.

The project begins with “Track Uno,” a pulsating intro that serves as your welcome into the sonic world of Kaytranada. Beginning with a simple synth loop, the track subtly weaves in other sounds like bass, snares and maracas to create a groovy rhythm reminiscent of a mid 2000’s Pharrell beat. Though “Track Uno” is one of the more simple beats on the album, it helps set the tone for the rest of the listening experience as one full of unpredictability.

In interviews, Kaytranada has expressed his preference for intimate, house party scenes as opposed to sold out stadium rocking sets and much of 99.9% reflects that preference. None of the tracks overpower you with their sonic elements and instead allow you to get taken over by the music as if Kaytranada is voodoo master and his beatpad are his pins.

On “Together”, a track featuring AlunaGeorge and DMV wordsmith GoldLink, Kaytranada shows his penchant for getting the most out of his vocal features. Over his synth heavy production, GoldLink expertly spits an anchor verse between hooks from AlunaGeorge. What becomes apparent in listening to 99.9% is how little Kaytranada cares about lyricism on his tracks. To him, words are nothing more than a musical element that can be blended amongst the dozens of other sounds he wants to put in his tracks.

“Drive Me Crazy”, a single featuring Vic Mensa released well over a year ago, is the track that comes as close to mainstream hip-hop as Kaytranada is willing to fly. Over a reverberating bass that helps the track sound like a cross between “Down On My Luck” and his other Kaytranada assisted track “Wimme Nah”, Vic Mensa raps about his frustrations with fame in the rap game and the struggles he’s had with finding meaningful relationships in a world full of superficialities.

Though most of Kaytranada’s tracks are assisted (he has just four solo cuts), the standout track by far is “Glowed Up”, a braggadocious ballad from Oxnard, CA artist Anderson. Paak about his ascent through the music game. Starting off with a ominous theremin sound that feels like it’s transporting you into a UFO, Kaytranada quickly introduces glistening synths and a bass that perfectly supplement Paak’s gruff yet melodious voice. It’s the second half of the track though that reminds you how versatile Kay is as a producer and how adaptable Anderson.Paak is as a vocalist. Over a lively set of snare drums and chimes, Paak croons over the near two minute outro in a soft, reassuring voice that make you forget the boasting he was doing just prior. “Glowed Up” is the peak of 99.9%; combining two artists who perfectly complement each other and who you can tell would rather do nothing more than give us a glimpse of the world they live in.

Overall, 99.9% is one of the more complete debut albums from a producer in recent memory. Each track has a distinct feel, and it’s apparent that nothing about Kay’s work is generic. From his unpredictable beat switches, to the way he creates complex yet cohesive rhythms using seemingly contrasting sonic elements, Kaytranada explores aspects of music most artists are either unwilling or unable to. Though his sound is nowhere near complete, if the title of the album is any indicator, it’s pretty damn close.

Richmond Rapper Hugo Monster Impresses at SF's Brick & Mortar Music Hall

By Skaz One | @skaz1official

The self-styled rap tyrant of Richmond, CA, Hugo Monster is one of the best up and coming rappers in the Bay Area. I got the opportunity to see Hugo perform live at The Brick & Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco last month.  He brought an unparalleled energy to the stage, the likes of which I had not seen in years.  At least not at a show at a smaller venue.  It’s easy to get hyped in front of 50,000 screaming fans at forty bucks a pop, but there’s nothing like spitting some dope lyrics in a more intimate setting.

But there’s more to this rising star than meets the eye. Hugo Monster was born in an impoverished area of Central America and immigrated to the United States as a child. Citing Tupac Shakur as a childhood influence, Hugo began writing raps in the late 90’s. Early in his career he was known as "MC Huey," but was forced to put his rap game on hold in order to concentrate on school and work.  Unlike many rappers one sees in the mainstream media nowadays, Hugo was concerned with his future; whether that future involved hip hop or not. Fortunately, that future would involve rapping, in a big way.

First, he changed his name from MC Huey to Hugo Monster, due to his dominant stature and large presence. Next, he released his debut album, entitled Unleashed, in 2006. All the while, Hugo was performing as one half of the underground hip hop duo, Check One.  Along with the other half of Check One, Breakadawn Juan, he recorded Off The Top, the duo’s only album to date. He also released two more solo albums himself.  Hugo released a 5 song EP, entitled Hugo The Ugly, in March of 2013 and another full length solo album in 2015, entitled Monrocks.

Monrocks, as an album, is full of the same high energy as I saw when Hugo was performing on stage.  As an artist in the San Francisco Bay Area myself, I know that there are a lot of tough crowds out there, especially at underground hip hop shows.  But Hugo Monster had the crowd bouncing with the beat and partying like it was 1999.  With tracks like "Salvadorian Delorean" and "League of My Own," Hugo Monster displays a style like no other in the Bay.  Now partnered with producer Charlie Giant, Hugo continues to write pages and rock stages and his star is on the rise, so be on the lookout.

Some of the latest from Hugo Monster includes a new single by Check One named “Make It Happen” as well as a brand new music video.  The video is now on youtube and features StevieBoi and J Morgan for their single entitled One Double O. Enjoy some of Hugo's catchy beats, smooth flows and funky videos below.

First Listen: East Of My Youth's new song "Mother"

Thelma Marín Jónsdóttir and Herdís Stefánsdóttir played SXSW this spring. Their debut EP is due out at the end of this summer. (photo via EastOfMyYouth)

By Connor Buestad | connor@section925.com

This pair of Icelandic musicians have only been together for under a year, but have already found themselves on some impressive festival stages around he globe, including South By Southwest in Austin. Surely, their recent studio performance at KEXP in Seattle made quite an impression on us at Section925.  

As we approach the summer months, the upstart electro-pop duo is gearing up to release their first EP sometime around August. Today, the band shared a new track off the upcoming album. The song is titled "Mother." 

As of now, there aren't any Bay Area dates on the books for EOMY, but rest assured their will be and we'll be quick to let you know. Enjoy. 


Follow the band's SoundCloud page here.

Follow @EastOf_MyYouth on twitter here.  And Instagram here. 

 

And here's another great track by East of my Youth: