The music of the Grateful Dead has been an iconic staple in the fabric of the jam band community, spanning over three decades and more then 35 million albums sold. They have been ranked as the greatest band of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine as well as having been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Though some would say it’s hard, nay impossible, to recreate the music of the dead, that has not stopped hundreds of bands, many loyal followers of the music from day one, to pursue their dreams of covering their favorite band of all time. However none are as acclaimed or accredited as Dark Star Orchestra (DSO).
DSO is known for performing shows based on the original set lists of Grateful Dead concerts, citing the date and venue at the end of their performance. For fans this is a fun opportunity to discover a new favorite Grateful Dead show they didn’t know about. On any given night they will draw from the Dead’s catalog and play an original show, something to appeal to new and old heads alike. This Friday in the Egyptian Room at the Old National Center in Downtown Indy, DSO will take the stage to give us their annual show, while staying true to the bands commitment of “raising the dead.”
DSO doesn’t just play the specific set list though, they cater each and every show specifically to the era in which they are recreating. From changing their arrangement to musical structure and even instruments, they hold precision accuracy as a key element to every show played. DSO is also known for the fact that five members of the original Grateful Dead have occasionally sat in on their shows throughout their nearly 15 years and over 2200 shows on the road. Band members include Rob Eaton on Rhythm Guitar and vocals, Dino English and Rob Koritz on Drums, Skip Vangelas on bass, Lisa Mackey on vocals, Rob Barraco on Keyboards and Vocals, and Jeff Mattson on lead guitar.
The show is set to take place this Friday, February 7th; doors open at 8PM. Tickets will all be general admission standing room as is traditional with all shows in the Egyptian Room. Ticket prices are set at $23.50 for the show and can be purchased at the door.
For those of you who don’t want to wait in line for will call or to get tickets the night of, you can purchase tickets online here. To try to connect with other fans going, check out one of the many Facebook pages for the event.
I look forward to seeing you out for what is sure to be a wonderful evening full of great music and great people.
As the musical communities of jambands and electronica have come together over the past years, the Midwest has been a convergence point for self-awareness, local festivals, music and art. One major influencer has been the band Papadosio, and their front man Anthony Thogmartin. As Papadosio has grown out of small bars and venues into sold out crowds, as well as developing their four-year running music festival, Rootwire, they have made a name for themselves, and their community, within the Midwest.
This year, at the 2nd annual Hyperion Music Festival, set to take place this weekend, September 5th-7th in Spencer, IN, Papadosio plans to take the main stage as the headlining act of Friday night. The second time they’ve held this spot at Hyperion, Papadosio is a musical force to reckon with as they fuse jam, electronica, progressive rock, folk and psychedelia into one monster of a band that will have you grooving from start to finish. As I sit down with Anthony in this interview, we discuss the prominence of Papadosio within the scene, the release of his newest album from his solo project Earthcry, Rootwire and the use of drugs within the scene. Take a read and we will see you at Hyperion 2013.
CL: You just released the new Earthcry album, can you talk about what it means to you and the importance of the album?
Anthony: Well the Earthcry album is a collection of songs that I had sitting around and I didn’t really know what to do with them; I didn’t think they really applied to us as a band. I wanted to have another creative outlet for what I felt was a slightly different style, maybe a little less live sounding. It’s basically a collection of solfeggio frequencies, which are a 1400AD and earlier tradition that Gregorian choirs would sing in.
CL: As you’ve been doing the Earthcry thing over the past couple years have you been finding yourself, in your free time, connecting with these frequencies more then what you did in the past?
Anthony: Honestly I think I’ve connected with them mostly through composing, because I just had so much time and training and I spent a lot of time tuning my synthesizers because they don’t line up with the specific scale. They’re in between A and A-Flat or F and E. They sound distorted when you listen to them with normal music, so you literally have to tune all the instruments you use down or up slightly to match the sounds. I was dong a lot of training with my own ears and my body system just by messing with them, so I think I got a lot more into it with composing, but whenever I sit down to mess around with a song or a live performance it tends to bring it all back. It’s really funny to hear what people have to say about it, especially because a lot of guys will cross their arms and tap their toes and ask, “Is this stuff real? Where’s the science?”
CL: Have you felt a difference in your life by playing and experiencing these different frequencies?
Anthony: Some more than others. I think that it’s important to remember that when you say the words ‘war’ or ‘hate’, what it does to somebody, it’s not because of the utterance of the phrase means literally anything at all, but because of the connotations that have been granted to those words. Or ‘love’ and ‘happiness’- they make us feel a certain way when we hear them because we’ve granted them the ability to do so. So if you come into an Earthcry show all skeptical, I don’t think you will walk away with nearly as much as if you were to just come in there with an open mind. I feel a lot of people miss out on their life because they are constantly skeptical of everything. We grant these frequencies the power they have over us.
CL: Do you have a favorite frequency, one you connect with the most?
Anthony: 741 is really awesome; I call it “cultivating intuition,” but I don’t really like to talk about them too much because I don’t want to charge peoples experiences. I feel that after talking to people, that they have more of an experience if I don’t talk about them.
CL: Can you give me your explanation of the meaning behind T.E.T.I.O.S and ending the illusion of separation, as a society, on a worldly level, but also in the sense of this micro-cosim that is the jam scene?
Anthony: Well almost every single song on the album talks about, in some way, the illusion of separation. We walk around in a world that is so unbelievably obsessed with what is exterior, what is superficial and what is outside of the body. A really good quote that I like to talk about is from the Guru Muda that says, “because we’re aware of our thinking mind, there’s got to be something deeper then the thinking mind,” because we’re aware of our thoughts. We are highly aware if we are happy or sad- if our brain is over or under stimulated- because we’re aware that there’s obviously an equal and vast universe on the inside as there is on the outside. A lot of the album talks about those things.
Sometimes they’re very basic and sometimes they’re pretty in depth. I feel that’s in a lot of ways what we were touching on, and that’s our lives, that’s really the life we live right now, it’s a really funny loophole between un-reality and reality, and we walk around in an illusion. An illusion that says I am me and you are you, but if you zoom out of the earth and you look at the earth as itself, it’s one large active living system, and it’s one collection of huge systems and we’re so specific of what’s coming into our eyes and our brain, as opposed to the eye that encompasses all. And that’s not just a theme for the album, but all of the lyrical structure and everything we talk about as a band. I guess to talk about it more on a grounded level, it was right when Sam joined the band in the beginning of the creation of the CD. He brought to the table, in a lot of ways, what completed us as a band because what we needed was somebody to refocus on the 4th note of all the chords, the rhythm. I think that having him join in, and also contributing songs he wrote for the album, allowed us to be more diverse.
CL: How long were you working on T.E.T.I.O.S before it was released?
Anthony: I guess it was about two years of work, but really about a total of three years for me.
CL: So three years in the making- did that coincide in any way with your trip to South America and your ayahuasca experience and maybe getting a better sense of enlightenment as to the world we live in?
Anthony: Well that’s a funny word, enlightenment. I think that an experience like that which takes one in a visionary direction- there’s a lot of visual and auditory aspects- what it does is it grants somebody perspective. I can definitely say that it granted us a different perspective for the time we spent down there. Even more than that, the perspective of being in a jungle and being in a different culture is almost enough. Once you leave your surroundings for just a little bit and you see what other people are doing, you instantly understand what empathy means; you understand what everybody is dealing with and that people do experience pain in other places and everybody is not against you. It’s so funny how unbelievably afraid, especially around here, people are of the rest of the world and we shelter ourselves. If people left just for a little bit to taste what’s out there, the world would be a completely different place.
CL: What are your opinions on drug use in the music scene?
Anthony: Well I don’t think there is as much drug use as people would like to think. I think that it’s also very romanticized which in a lot of ways is sad. If you have a psychedelic experience, it will grant you a different perspective of what you are able to deal with in your own body system and your own mind and your soul. It will show you a small, slightly altered aspect of you but it will be an incomplete aspect of you. When somebody sees a different perspective their reaction can be, ‘oh wow that’s pretty wild’ and then they think it’s the drugs that granted them that, when truly it’s their own self. It is a different synapse, a different neuron firing in the brain they’ve always had and can totally access and use outside of realm of drug use.
This year I saw less drug use and more pragmatic thought and focusing on different practices then I had really ever seen before. It was really encouraging and exciting. We even had a panel discussion on this very topic because its really kind of obnoxious anymore that people are so heavily reliant on psychedelic use to feel they are tapping into something spiritual, when really it’s available anytime, it just takes a lot of discipline. What we don’t have right now as a society is a lot of discipline. Really, I feel like psychedelic use is like a reality intervention- you’re sick, and this is medicine. What I really see happening is people are focusing on other things. They’re focusing on dramatic dance, yoga, meditation. If you can really get into it and discipline ones self, nothing prevents you from achieving the exact same state in a more controlled and repeatable manner. We’re moving towards that direction and I think its great.
I think that society is incredibly afraid and skeptical of what it doesn’t understand and its time for our culture to take the next step and mature. We actually called our discussion at Rootwire “Once You Get The Message, Hang Up The Phone, There’s No reason To listen For A Dial Tone” because once you get the message that a different perspective can grant you, then you just hang up the phone. There’s no reason to consistently take the drugs, and there’s no reason to do it in the first place if you don’t feel called to. It’s a medicine. It’s for someone that is sick, its not just like, “I have to do this to enjoy myself.” That’s the sign of someone that is sick in a different way and the drugs are never going to help them solve that.
CL: Ok so getting away from Rootwire, how do you see Papadosio creating its own micro-cosim within the macro-cosim that is the jam scene?
Anthony: On a grounded level, we just do what we want to do. I think that a lot of bands out there aren’t doing what they want to do. If bands were doing what they really wanted to do, their music would sound a lot different. Unfortunately we’re hanging out in a time where a lot of bands are copying each other and a lot of electronic producers are using the same sound because it worked for somebody else. I don’t think the media is really portraying the financial situation that’s going on right now as dire as it actually is.
The reason we have all kinds of musicians writing music they don’t necessary like or agree with is because everyone is broke. I feel that our band has made unbelievable sacrifices, time-wise and finance-wise. We spend 150 days on the road. We work endlessly because we know that’s what it takes. We also write the music we want to write. Us doing what is original is novel, and its novel to hear a band doing something that’s not contrived out of pieces of other peoples music. It’s not hard to do, you just have to do it, and I think there are bands out there that are doing this and it’s exciting. We try to invite them to Rootwire, if they’ll come, but it’s just a funny world we live in. Everything that’s super mega popular, besides a very small handful of musicians, is probably the most un-original music that there is. It’s the most generic, and because of this most people can relate to it, and if it’s advertised well it becomes massive.
I feel it waxes and wanes. Right now we’re in the disco period where everyone’s making the same sound and another 90’s is going to hit and a new more torn-down version of music that’s very original is going to resurface and hit again. We’re just in a dull period right now where everybody can put an “ERRRR” in their DJ set and it’s going to work for them; eventually it’s going to hit a critical mass and it’s not going to work anymore.
CL: Since you brought it up, what are your opinions on the convergence of EDM music rising to be a very large popular genre of music?
Anthony: Well, the trouble lies with naming the genre EDM, because there’s a lot of electronic music out there that isn’t electronic dance music. But also that’s why we’re in a disco culture, because in a lot of ways people are excited about dance music once again. I’m old enough to remember when Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails and Tool were just starting to hit the radio and I was enamored with this music because I hadn’t heard anything like it. It was original and it didn’t really ask you to do anything, it just demanded that you enjoy this specific and artistic perspective that was not going to be altered or changed by anybody else. It was highly original. And now we’re in this disco era again where people are like, ‘Will this make someone dance? How about this? I wonder if this will this make someone dance.’ Whatever cleverly placed glitchy sound will make someone dance is what’s happening. I don’t really know if I understand what EDM means, but as I understand it, it’s electronic music that someone dances to. It’s specifically designed for a specific purpose and it just doesn’t allow for the fullness of artistic expression.
CL: I’ve spoken with various people at Papadosio shows on this topic and I’m curious what are you thoughts on certain peoples’ feelings that Papadosio is almost like a cult?
Anthony: Yeah it’s actually pretty funny. I watched Radiohead in 2007 at Bonnaroo and there had to be over 50,000 people there- a very large crowd to be in the middle of. So what I noticed was people moved and breathing with that music. They were so entranced, so unbelievably moved by every single action. I related that back to my youth and realized anything that band wore, I wore. Anything that band said, I said. Anything that was going on with that music when I was younger was my lifestyle. We defined ourselves by our music.
So what I realized at that moment was that you have within you the capacity to say some things that might just need to be said, some ideas that might not be represented in the mass media. When do you get on the news and when does the news say, “Hey everybody, why don’t you just try to love each other. Hey everybody, its all gonna be good,”? When has the media said that? What if Radiohead said that? That’s what went through my mind. What if these bands were saying that? And I thought more and more that it makes a lot more sense to keep whatever is being said outside of music very short and to the point, but to say what’s being said in the music even more. It almost becomes a mantra to people and to think of us as a cult is a really funny thing to think about because that obviously comes from the opinion of somebody who is really, really on the outside.
I suppose what we have more than a cult, is a culture. It’s a little culture that has values and free, simple and true ways of being. We don’t really like to argue. We don’t like to fight. We don’t like to do anything other then enjoy ourselves peacefully, explore our psyches peacefully, explore our relationships with each other peacefully and get into really awesome art. I think maybe some guy at the back of the bar that wonders into a Papadosio show and sees it for the first time would consider it different because it really is. Its really different, but in no way, shape or form are we spiritual leaders who are going to ask of our fans the next time Halley’s Comet comes by to murder themselves.
I also think there’s a term called “classic”. There are a lot of bands out there that were called “classic.” What that means is they’re a band that is very strange and different and only a very small pocket of people get it, but that small pocket of people really get it. It’s like GWAR fans, for example. There’s not millions and millions of GWAR fans, but there’s definitely a lot of them, and it’s a very specific, strange and funny kind of thing and its not going to be everybody’s bag to like that. But they have a cult classic following, and in a lot of ways I think that’s what’s happening with us. We’re trying to make our music accessible to anybody that likes to play a guitar or a bass or can appreciate the musical aspect of what we do and not just what we say. I think we’re trying to be translatable to a wide variety of people just because it’s a challenge for us and it’s fun. We’re not really trying to lead the people as much as just get them to maybe think together and maybe be a little more peaceful and enjoy the finer things in life.
CL: So one last question that was requested of me to ask: are you an alien?
Anthony: Haha, I don’t know, I’m pretty sure this isn’t the first time this has happened, ya know, on a planet, so if I am, then I guess we all are.
While many of us attend festivals regularly, not all of us get the chance to sit down, have a drink and just kick it over casual conversation with the bands we pay to see. As a writer I feel that if I have the chance to make that connection for an audience then I should take it, which is exactly what I did at this years Mojostock, held annually at the Sleepybear Campground in Noblesville, IN.
Mojostock provided a nice dark, dank and cool “green room” in the back of an old barn that enabled talent and media to get out of the sun, relax and chat. I took this chance to sit down with the Max Allen Band comprised of Dace Robie (Bass), Max Allen (Guitar, vocals) and Shaan France (Drums, vocals) and ask some raw questions that sometimes people just forget to ask. I invite you to take a look as we discuss their rise in the scene, the future of the band, the influence of EDM music and drug use in the local music community.
CL: As kids how did you first get into music?
Dace: As a kid I started playing saxophone in the school band, and later on I picked up the bass. Then I went to butler for 4 years, studied composition there, played bass in the orchestra and the jazz band there, and was pretty much a school kid.
Shaan: Same thing for me, I played percussion in the middle school band and in high school. I went to college, got a music education degree with an emphasis in percussion. Played in jazz bands, and the drum set has just always been there.
Max: I know it sounds weird to say it but I’ve been playing guitar for 21 years.
CL: And how old are you?
Max: 29, and I have just been playing on the scene for 14 years and it has been my only job since 15. It’s just been a constant, every day just DO SOMETHING, that’s something my father would always tell me, just do something every day. This is some advice I could give any musician trying to make it, which is just do something. Every day do something to try to help benefit your career. Whether it be small or large.
CL: So how did you get started being a touring Midwest band?
Max: I started playing the bar seen about age 15-16 and did a lot of blues stuff. I played a lot, had the whole child prodigy thing going, which helped getting a lot of gigs and press. This helped me get a name for myself, after which I kind of changed and started listening to the jam scene like the Funky Meters, John Scofield, Phish and we started changing the whole band. We picked up Dace about 4 years ago, but Shaan and I have been playing together for about 7 years.
CL: In terms of marketing, have you stayed primarily grassroots, or have you utilized the rise of digital marketing as it has grown around you in the years that you have risen as a recognized band?
Dace: Social media is a means to an end, but it is not THE end, because there is a lot of noise on the Internet. And when everybody is blowing your shit up on Twitter or Facebook, especially about coming to your show you kind of become numb to it all. It is still about what people listen to, what their friends listen too.
Shaan: In the same sense though we still challenge any big band out there, that’s our thing. Yeah this band has that; that band has this; but give us a shot, we will impress you.
Max: We’ve been told we have the sound of a bigger band. For a three piece band we have a BIG sound.
CL: Being a smaller band that’s been around for some time, do peoples perception of you as being small effect how much you get paid in comparison to a larger band that hasn’t been around as long?
Max: sometimes venues are more compassionate towards bigger bands, because it costs more with all those people out on the road. But we can take some lower paying shows that are more for publicity and it doesn’t hurt as hard. Really it’s a numbers game and you get paid more if you bring more people, and it’s just a matter of building your fan base as big as possible.
CL: So Dace and Shaan, you both said you had classical training where as Max it seems like you were already on the scene so to say, were you going to any of these small music festivals or “hippie gatherings” or did you just stumble upon it?
Shaan: I was, I’m a little bit older and I’m not gonna give out my age, but I started doing festivals a long time ago, and drum set was just something that was always there. For me and for what I grew up doing, being an orchestral percussionist, drum set was always there. So when I moved here in 1998 I didn’t know anybody and I was looking for a way to play jazz vibes but everybody was saying they needed a drum set so I started picking that up. Really you just have to sell yourselves. We’re musicians; we’re prostitutes; you just gotta get out there and sell yourself. You have to be your own salesman. You’re the employer, the employee. You gotta push your own self.
Dace: When I started playing bass I wanted to play in a rock band. When I went to college I wanted to write orchestral pieces. By the time I got out of college I was playing in a rock band, so I came full circle.
Max: I did a lot of training with random instructors, and the one instructor I took most of my instructions from was a professor from Butler. I studied classical guitar for 4 years or so and just being in the field playing shows. I’ve been conditioned to get paid with money, food and booze.
CL: Being classical musicians, musicians of rock bands, how do you see electronic music taking over or influencing the scene?
Dace: Everything coexists now. We’ve talked to some booking agents that say rock bands are in limbo, nobody wants to book rock bands. It’s all EDM or its bluegrass. Its like people either want all computers, or they want absolutely nothing to do with computers. I think things never take over completely and things never go away completely its just all a big conversation. I see that computers are going to be more common, it’s going to become an important scene and its good to see Indianapolis catching up with a lot of music scenes. But really it’s all about finding your right demographic, obviously it wont appeal to every band.
Max: I’d like to say that where we’re going with the whole EDM thing, we’re a hybrid, we’re not afraid to use it. And some musicians are very traditional and completely turn their noses up to any sort of electronic or any backing tracks. I think if it makes the song or makes the performance more entertaining, if it fills up the space, I don’t see why you shouldn’t use it. You are only shorting yourself. You want to stay with the times, but you also want to stay true to yourself.
CL: As a band, how do you see yourselves evolving? Do you see yourself changing from where you were a year ago?
Max: Oh yeah, were completely different then where we were a year ago. There were some people that hadn’t seen us in over a year until last week, and they were just completely blown away. They could see all the work we’ve done, and it’s great because we all come from different backgrounds. We’re not afraid to go outside of our comfort zone to find something that sounds good. Regardless of what it is, there is somebody out there that gets in their car on the way to work and it just fucking pumps them up for the day, and it can just totally make their day. So we try to be as best of observers as possible and use it to our advantage.
CL: What is the 6-12 month plan, or direction that you see for the band?
Max: We’ve been talking to some agencies about getting us down south more. Colorado is always on it, and monetarily if makes sense to go out west we will.
Shaan: We actually had an offer to play a gig today down in Chattanooga, that we got today from the guy that is trying to get us down south more. We are definitely trying to pursue that different direction, as many people say that the Midwest is EDM, down south its still a lot of good rock and roll type shit.
Max: Down in Georgia, that whole region, it’s where our bread and butter is.
Shaan: That is where we are trying to get ourselves down this fall and winter, get ourselves a little more established down there.
CL: What do you feel is the importance of music festivals?
Max: That’s an easy question, to play our music for a crowd that might not normally see us. You get a festival like this where people are coming from Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, they are coming to a gathering place. What also helps is with a lot of these music festivals is there are a lot of people that are somewhat like-minded, listen to the same sort of things and have the same mindset.
CL: You come to a music festival, and the idea is the music puts out a vibrational energy that connects and puts everybody in attendance on the same plane in a sense, do you intentionally go out there achieve a goal like this?
Max: This is my spirituality, playing music, and I don’t have anything else that compares to it.
Dace: I definitely think we drive the vibe, and even if we are aren’t talking, the vibe we are putting out is underscoring the conversation. I don’t really think of it as cosmic, but I do think there is a unifying aspect to it all.
CL: Do you see yourselves “vibing” off the crowd as you play?
Max: Fuck yeah
Shaan: Absolutely, I feel that my job as a drummer is that if I’m not making that person shake their ass, then I’m not doing my job. If I cant make anybody shake their ass then I need to think about what I’m doin’.
CL: Do you find yourself wanting to play festivals more than bars?
Max: Oh yeah if I could stop playing bars and just play all festivals, or festivals and theaters, but its hard to do.
Shaan: Sometimes its hard to get into a festival, a lot of times it’s about who you know, not which kind of a band you are in or how talented you are. It’s politics.
Dace: It’s funny about the music industry, because it’s art, and art is so subjective, with music who is going to say this band is better then that band? Musicians want to hire their friends, promoters what to hire their friends, they want their friends to do well in the music industry.
Max: Don’t think it’s NOT a competition because it is. You are competing for the audience, for the crowd, for fans.
CL: There appears to always be a separation from stage and crowd and not many people actually get to hang out with the bands they see and make assumptions or judgments, what are your opinions about drug use, drug use in the scene and even the use of drugs like marijuana, mushrooms or LSD for medial or therapeutic purposes?
Max: F-I-F, I plead the F-I-F
Shaan: I have to concur with my colleagues and plead the fifth. However I will say this, a person can do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t mess with me or hurts anybody around me. If people are responsible enough to handle their shit, let them do whatever the hell they want to. I’m not saying I condone it, or that I do it, but if everybody can be happy and live together and nobody is getting hurt then whatever. But I will definitely say I plead the fifth.
Max: I have seen a lot of benefits that marijuana has done to the lives of people, medically, spiritually, mentally and I think as we grow older and as time goes on, the old ways of thinking are going to die out and the new ways are going to come in. I will say be safe and be smart, there are safe drugs and there are dumb drugs, but moderation is key.
CL: What advice would you give to the next up-and-coming regional band that is trying to make music their life?
Dace: Quit now and come to our gigs.
Max: Ya get a real job, something that pays. No but really though, find a team, this shit takes a team of people to make it happen. Indymojo has a team, a team of people all working for the same thing and that’s how a band should be. It shouldn’t just be the band working for the dream, it should be a well thought out plan, practice and make yours hit as good as possible. Practice your instrument, practice your instrument practice your fucking instrument. Go meet as many people as you can and spread the gospel, because it is a religion. Thank you.
The Forecastle Festival is located on the Ohio River, in Louisville, Kentucky. Being so close to the river provides an aesthetic that many festivals cannot match. There is a unique sort of charm in having a party by the river. Throughout the day, festivalgoers were sitting by the canal, cooling themselves off and resting their feet in the flowing water. Louisville Waterfront Park was the perfect setting for Saturday night’s festivities – after a brief interruption from the forces of nature.
Upon arriving at the festival, and trying to acclimate myself to unfamiliar surroundings, I was immediately informed by those running the festival that severe weather was in the area. For the safety of the crowd, all patrons were asked to leave the venue and take shelter in their cars. I delayed this process for as long as possible and managed to remain in the venue until everyone was allowed back in.
The weather caused a delay in the set times for the rest of the evening, but the festival organizers did a tremendous job of alleviating any confusion by displaying the adjusted set times on the screens that adorned each stage. The festival even handed out free tickets to people who bought one passes.
Once fans returned to the venue, TOKiMONSTA took the Red Bull Music Academy Ocean Stage, which was located under an overpass, giving the stage a grungy feel. TOKiMONSTA is a female electronic music producer from California. It was evident that festivalgoers were ready for a party. The crowd surged forward as she began playing poppy loops and dancing on stage in front of a checkerboard of LED screens displaying visuals behind her. Overall, the performance was akin to your average EDM DJ, danceable but not overly impressive. The performance peaked when she dropped, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” by Kendrick Lamar. Although not my cup of tea, the crowd was quite enthused and it was amusing to watch her sing along to the song.
After losing interest in TOKiMONSTA, I decided to head over to the Mast Stage, Forecastle’s main stage to watch Jim James. Although I have seen My Morning Jacket numerous times, I had yet to see the lead singer perform his solo work. I was not disappointed. Jim James, donning his signature long hair and beard, took the stage looking quite dapper in an open suit jacket and button up shirt. The band played softly as he began, “State of the Art.” The haunting vocals showcased the beauty that is Jim James voice and the crowd was instantly entranced. As the song climaxed, James was twirling around the stage as spikes of light provided visual stimulation behind him.
The second song of the set featured James soloing on a stationary guitar at center stage. While he is best known for his vocal capabilities, he can also play a mean guitar. Next, James sang, “Know til Now,” while dancing around the stage clutching a golden bear. This must have worn him out because he returned for the next song wearing a towel on his head and playing saxophone. The rest of the set felt like a classic rock n’ roll show, drum solos and all. You could sense the hometown love throughout the duration of the set. It became clear that no one loves Jim James as much as Louisville does.
As things were winding down, I decided to head to the Boom Stage to see The Flaming Lips. I had the pleasure of seeing them earlier this year when they came through Indianapolis, and I left quite impressed. The show at Forecastle was nearly identical to the one I had previously seen. Nonetheless, the Flaming Lips’ production quality never ceases to amaze me.
Wayne Coyne seemed to be in good spirits throughout the show, trying to get the crowd to liven up. “During a Flaming Lips show, you are allowed to do what you want to do,” he said. He once again made jokes about smoking pot, shining the light gun into the crowd and encouraging people to smoke. He was infatuated with the fact that there was a highway above the venue and kept imagining a car crashing off of it into the crowd.
One interesting twist that I had not previously seen was the bands cover of, “Gates of Steel,” by DEVO, which began with an extensive drum introduction. Wayne Coyne stood on his pedestal singing lyrics as the entire stage was barraged by lasers.
Finally, it was time to head back to the Mast Stage to see The Black Keys. “Howlin for you,” the band’s first song of the evening started as I was making my way through the crowd. Although the band is comprised of only two members, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, they brought along some touring musicians to add to their sound, giving the band a bass and keyboard when necessary. Although I enjoy most of the Black Keys music, their live performance fell flat. They sounded restrained, playing at a lower volume than the rest of the bands that evening. I overheard people in the crowd yelling for them to, “Turn up the volume,” and I couldn’t help but agree. After a few songs, including an incredible version of, “Gold on the Ceiling,” which sounded better than the studio version, the band said they were going to play some songs as a duo.
The band seemed more comfortable playing as a duo, launching into, “Thickfreakness,” off of the album of the same name, which happens to be my favorite of their albums. After a brief intermission, the band returned for an encore, playing, “I Got Mine,” which featured Auerbach shredding the guitar. Weary from a day of incredible music, I exited the venue as their last song faded off into the distance.
Words by Kenneth Spangler (above) and Chris Lucas (below for SCI late night)
Saturday Late Night: The String Cheese Incident
The best part of the weekend was dancing in the front row at The String Cheese Incident‘s late night set at the Louisville Palace. These boys are definitely my favorite band out there, and there aren’t many opportunities to see them around here, as they don’t make it to the midwest very often. Instead, they perform “Incidents” across the country, but mostly in the western United States.
As we walked into the Palace, I was amazed by how beautiful it was, and just by the fact that I was even there at the show. Nothing all weekend compared to the energy and professionalism that was brought to this show, and it will definitely be something to remember. The crowd, the band, the vibe, and the venue all summed together equated to the best show of the weekend.
To see more photographs from The Forecastle Festival 2013, click here
To a lot of us Midwesterners Summer Camp Music Festival, held annually on the second to last weekend in May in Chillicothe, IL is like a warm gentle welcome to summer that we all wildly anticipate. And when I mean gentle I mean the chance of knee deep mud, dust bowls, guys walking around in tutus with Donny Darko masks, the sweet sounds of jams going on well till the crack of dawn and the reunion of old friends forgotten in the screen of snow that was winter.
Last years Summer Camp presented me with a great opportunity to get to know a lot of new bands while also allowing me the ability to reacquaint and fall in love with ones I had already been familiar with. There was the scorching sun, dust everywhere, hammocks and tents as far as the eye could see, great people, music and most of all experiences. We were able to see Moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Gogol Bordello late night and Bob Wier take the stage with Les Claypool for the return of Primus to the festival scene. It was hot, it was sweaty, it was glorious and man was it good, which is why we are all going back this year to experience all the glory that is Scamp.
Even more though we are going back for the people, for those freakers by the speaker, those tweekers and geekers, the weird the wet and the wild, the ones that us festy kids just cant live without. It’s life, and once you’ve bought the ticket, you gotta take the ride. This years Summer Camp experience will surely be one to remember with the staple 3 days of Moe. and Umphrey’s McGee, but it’s the addition of the Trey Anastasio Band, STS9 and Thievery Corporation as co-headliners that really have me excited.
Now here’s what you REALLY need to know about this years Summer Camp, again it is set in Chillicothe, IL from May 24th – May 26th. Currently weekend tickets are in the last purchasing tier costing around $218.00. There is also the Thursday night pre-party pass where anybody that is anybody will be in attendance. Thursday allows the regulars a chance to grab the best camping spots, get settled early, avoid super long lines and you get to catch a set of Digital Tape Machine as well as Jaik Willis in the barn, these passes cost an additional $33.00. They have an assortment of VIP upgrades, Primitive RV hook-ups, single day as well as full weekend and pre party passes available on the Summer Camp 2013 website for purchase. Definitely grab yo shit before hitting the road, trust me you do not want to stand in line with all your gear for 3 hours for tickets, only to have to do it for 3 more to get searched and enter the festival.
Summer Camp isn’t just about the music, it’s also about the people, and knowing how to plan ahead can be crucial to a good time. Be sure to check out all the camping rules and info as well as get aquatinted with the schedule and the additional workshops and kids camp if you want a little more out of your experience or are bringing young ones, because if you didn’t know, you need to, and now you can.
Like I said above, ultimately Scamp is about the experience, the people, the conversations and the love. Before you set out for scamp take a second to separate yourself from the greater world that we live in daily, take some deep breathes and prepare and ready yourself for what will be a magical experience, if you make it one. Be open to try new things, meet new people, converse on life, love stress and set backs but also on the positive aspects of life and the NOW, for that’s how you grow, and that is why Scamp is beautiful, because it gives you opportunities to grow and learn and become wiser. Remember, you’re traveling to Edge City, and as it was put to me so concisely by a good friend one of the greatest writing influences I have, “people die out here, it happens every day! It doesn’t take much, but it goes against the grain,” so be safe, be smart but most of all be open and have fun. I’ll see you kids in the campgrounds, come say whattup, you can call me Toph.
Words by Chris Lucas
To view photos from last year’s Summer Camp Music Festival, click here
Bluegrass music is one of our country’s oldest traditions, the pickin’ music of a banjo stirs memories of country livin’, moonshine, driving fast down dirt roads and kickin’ your heels up in a cloud of dust at your favorite summer festival. Though the feelings remain the same, the experience I had at last Wednesday’s An Evening of Bluegrass was quite a different experience. With little to no promotion for the event I was lucky that I happened across the page of the Old National Centre (forever known as the Murat) and a friendly Facebook post informing me of the event. With a little research I realized that this was not a show to miss, as it boasted some of the most sought after acoustic session players in bluegrass, including 2 Grammy award winners and 1 Grammy Nominee. The line-up included Noam Pikelny of the Punch Brothers on banjo, Bryan Sutton, known for his time with Ricky Skaggs, the Dixie Chicks and Doc Watson, on acoustic guitar, Ronnie McCoury, the son of famed Del McCoury, on mandolin, Luke Bulla on fiddle, and Barry Bales of Allison Krauss and Union Station on the upright bass.
The Venue on the tickets and on the Old National Centre’s website was referred to as Deluxe, but talking with some of the people that work there I found out it is actually called Corinthian Hall, a small room in the basement of the Murat. There was the standard marble floors, seen throughout the building, along with a beautifully lit ceiling and walls to boot. Very classy indeed, matched by the atmosphere of a seated event and a much more mature crowd. The one drawback was that we ended up having to sit behind one of the several large pillars in the center of the room, making it hard to see more then half the band at any given time. Obstructed view aside, the show was a wonderful collection of heartwarming bluegrass and folk tunes full of energy and pride. These guys are all very experienced musicians, you don’t win a Grammy otherwise, and they hardly missed a note. This kind of bluegrass was definitely different then the style I have been accustomed too, listening to The New Old Cavalry, Yonder Mountain String Band, and the Rumpke Mountain Boys, but I think seeing this different side to a very wide spanning genre of music was refreshing. It was very hard not being able to jump up and dance around but that was just part of the experience. All in all it was a good show, it wasn’t great because great would have been to see these boys really cut loose with a wild crowd dancing arm in arm into the wee hours of the morning. Regardless, check em out if you see them on your next festival handbill, you wont be disappointed.
To view more photographs from the show, click here.
Words by Chris Lucas