Day 3 Recap : Lollapalooza 2014 : Grant Park, Chicago, IL

Written by Ryan Hickey

Our third and final day of Lollapalooza started with somewhat of a surprise. Well, two surprises. First, we were greeted by rain at the start of the festival, which was not originally predicted. Second, while taking an alternate route to the Bud Light stage, we stopped by the Toyota Soundwave tent and caught a few minutes of Wrestlers, a Houston-based live electronic group. Turns out they are a Red Bull Sound Select artist, and I won’t be surprised if you start to hear more about them soon.

We reached our original destination, the Bud Light stage, for Trombone Shorty, the passionate multi-instrument and voice talent from New Orleans. Trombone Shorty, along with the members of his band, Orleans Avenue, oozes talent and Big Easy funk influence. However, Shorty has clearly evolved from his New Orleans roots, often performing songs that feature aggressive guitar riffs and other hard rock traits. Their entire set absolutely ripped, with Shorty leading the way in a highly energized performance that combines big band organization, NOLA energy, and rock n’ roll edge. Further, it was refreshing to finally be around a crowd that just enjoyed the show and danced.

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Our next venture took us to The Grove stage for RAC. Now, as a DJ I have been familiar with and quite fond of RAC’s remixes of popular and indie songs alike. Like any great remix artist, they tend to completely recreate songs, often times leaving people asking themselves what they like better, the original or the remix. The live show, in which the group performs these remixes live, only increased my appreciation for them. From what I can tell, they use hardware for preprogrammed beats in lieu of a drummer, but the guitars and keys are performed live. In addition to performing some of their original work like “Tear You Down,” they delighted the crowd to some of their more popular remixes, including “Something Good Can Work” (Two Door Cinema Club) and “Blue Jeans” (Lana Del Rey).

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Day Three seemed to find us exclusively at the north end of Grant Park, and the theme continued back at the Palladia stage for Run the Jewels. This rap power duo, which officially formed in early 2013, is one of the best ongoing collaborations to emerge from the hip hop world. El-P and Killer Mike, both established as solo artists, teamed up officially after prior collaborations together. While too many Lolla attendees missed this great set, the MCs performed their namesake track, as well as “36 in. Chain”and “Sea Legs.” The latter part of their set featured an appearance by fellow Lolla performer DJ Z-Trip.

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While the festival would continue for a few more hours, our final stop was back at the Bud Light stage for the electro-funk-pop act Chromeo. Confession: I’ve been a big fan of their music and have included it in my DJ sets for a while now, so I was looking forward to seeing the live version. Not only did the Canadian duo deliver an electrified set, the crowd returned the favor with an all-out dance party. Aside from OutKast, this seemed to be about as much fun as we witnessed among the crowd throughout the weekend, at least for the over 21 contingent. Longtime fans were treated to a ‘greatest hits’ type set, with everything from “Night By Night,” “Hot Mess” and “Tenderoni,” as well as current single “Jealous” from their new album (White Women). I think the only thing that could have possibly made this show better is if it had been after dark. I suppose we’ll just have to go see them again sometime.

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Lollapalooza was a great experience once again. My only hope is that the younger generation will take the following advice to heart: let the denim diapers go out of style, put down the flavored blunt wraps and stop pushing people to get where you’re going at festivals.

Day 2 Recap : Lollapalooza 2014 : Grant Park, Chicago, IL

Written by Ryan Hickey

While the prediction of low 70s weather turned out to be a little off, the warmth was not to be hated by this blogger. Day two brought beautiful sunshine and a highly anticipated lineup, both of which we took head on.

Our first stop was at the Samsung Galaxy stage for Jungle, a relatively new modern soul group from London. Jungle has been around since early 2013, and gave the day two early bird crowd a smooth start to the day with their blend of old school funk and sample-laced trip hop beats.

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After Jungle’s set, we made the park-wide trek over to the Palladia stage to see Parquet Courts. They took the stage and introduced themselves with a brief “We’re Parquet Courts from Brooklyn, New York” and jumped right into their set. This band is also relatively new to the scene, forming in 2010. Interestingly enough, their sound reflects a heavy influence of 80’s punk, and I would be surprised if they did not absorb some inspiration from the likes of Sonic Youth in their formative years.

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We took the next of many trips back across Grant Park to catch the grimey, southern rock sounds of Phosphorescent. Led by singer-songwriter Matthew Houck, whose voice has Springsteen-like qualities, Phosphorescent’s musical topics are often similar to other southern/country songs, covering addiction, heartbreak and other facts of life.

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Following the first mini marathon of shows, we nestled into the press area to recharge and prepare for an excellent second phase of day two. Fitz and the Tantrums started this next round. The enthusiastic neo-soul act runs their shows with lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick in perpetual motion. Their message is all positive and the band leads by example when it comes to making music fun. In addition to a plethora of originals, the band also covered the Eurythmics classic “Sweet Dreams” and during another jam, saxophonist James King played the chorus lick from Jason Derulo’s current club hit, “Talk Dirty.” If you enjoy dancing and having a good time at a show, do yourself a favor and see them when you can.

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Back across the park we walked again to the Palladia stage for the highly anticipated performance from legendary New York rapper Nas. Considered by many fans and critics to be one of the most gifted MCs to ever put out a record, Nas came out (on time) and jumped right into his first song without any gimmicks or delays, incredibly refreshing for a rap performance. A huge crowd had gathered and old school heads joined in yelling lyrics to the opening “New York State of Mind.” Nas celebrated the 20th anniversary of his smash record Illmatic and delighted the crowd by playing nearly every song from the record. Before going into “It Ain’t Hard to Tell,” Nas acknowledged Michael Jackson as his musical inspiration (the song samples MJ’s “Human Nature”). Nas absolutely ripped it and it was great to see.

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We made a quick stop to see a few songs from Spoon, the 20+ year-career band from Austin. Their straightforward approach to rock has been churning out albums since the early 90s, including their newest release, They Want My Soul (August 5th, 2014). While the crowd seemed to be showing signs of fatigue from the long day, Spoon rocked and rolled the crowd back into action.’

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Finally, we reached the Samsung Galaxy stage for our Lolla 2014 ‘manifest destiny: OutKast. It seemed as if the entire city of Chicago showed up with a plus one for this show, and rightfully so. The Atlanta rap duo’s return to the stage this summer after a long hiatus has been the talk of the town along with the headliner at many major festivals. Unlike many of their rap brethren, though, OutKast does not mail it in when it comes to performing. Their show comes complete with live band (including the same horn players who have recorded on their studio albums), DJ and backup singers and is absolutely electric. Not only carrying the torch with hip hop tradition, their live band is able to layer elements of Motown, rock and funk into their sets, almost completely separating them from their competition (which they alluded to in “Rosa Parks” by telling their fellow rappers to “move to the back of the bus”).

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OutKast began their set with an energetic “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)” and proceeded to play every hit song they ever created, in which there are many. The crowd sang along to classic jams from all of their records, as well as solo work from Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Both rappers wore interesting attire, with Big Boi in a unique ‘short suit’ and Andre donning a blonde wig and a jump suit that read “Across cultures, darker people suffer most. Why?” on the chest. Andre’s suit also sported a “SOLD” tag dangling from the waist, presumably referring to slave trade, but perhaps also a knock on the music industry. While OutKast has never been afraid to address such controversial topics, they also know how to keep their shows ‘for the people’ and are the consummate crowd-pleasers. It felt great knowing this may be the one and only time I get to see these rap legends, and that they could not have been more impressive on stage.

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Day 1 Recap : Lollapalooza 2014 : Grant Park, Chicago, IL

Written by Ryan Hickey

Back for our second consecutive year together at Lollapalooza, photographer Rachel Rubenstein and I journeyed into the festival in the early afternoon, ready for a big first day. After checking in, we headed to the Samsung Galaxy stage to see our first act of the day: Bombay Bicycle Club. The British indie outfit allowed us to warm up before we hit the hard stuff. Their smooth, poppy music is pleasant, but also offers a world beat influenced percussive quality. The gentle voice of lead singer Jack Steadman at times reminded me of both Gene Ween and The Radio Dept.’s Johan Duncanson.

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After taking cover for a brief rain shower, we walked across the park to the Grove stage to catch Jagwar Ma. Currently touring North America all the way from Australia, these guys pump out spacey, digital, electro-rock/dance music with heavy vocal effects and great stage energy. As the rainstorm had seemingly blown past the city, lead singer Gabriel Winterfield commented, “Did we just scare the weather away? I think we did!” The rain never returned to Grant Park after that, at least not on Friday. These guys seem to be steadily rising so be sure to catch them in your area sometime soon.

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Up next, we caught the infamous and currently pop-chart-dominating Iggy Azalea at Perry’s stage. The area was swarmed with youngsters preparing for the Australian born pop star to hit the stage. Iggy, whose birth name is actually Amethyst, ran onstage in skin-tight exercise gear, accompanied by a handful of backup dancers. She ran through popular hits such as “Bounce” and “Fancy,” keeping the crowd energized and entertained. After a few more songs, we bounced like Iggy and headed to the next show.

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Next on the Lakeshore stage was Chvrches, the electronic band from Scotland. Regardless of a somewhat awkward stage presence from lead singer Lauren Mayberry, their sound and style is jumpy and fun.

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Just a quick turnaround towards the Samsung Galaxy stage and we were on our way to see our next act, Broken Bells. Formed by Danger Mouse and Shins frontman James Mercer, I was excited to see the melodic sounds of this crazy good side project. I had no idea Danger Mouse was so versatile instrumentally, switching from keys to bass to drums throughout the set.

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We continued our back and forth stage game and turned back around to the Lakeshore stage yet again for the Swedish indie pop singer, Lykke Li. While she has not necessarily cited her as an influence, and I had not previously thought this, it seemed like she was projecting a ton of Stevie Nicks both vocally and performance style wise. She ran through material from her new record I Never Learn, including the lead single “No Rest For The Wicked.”

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Our final stop along the musical trail on day one was back at the Grove stage for Phantogram, who describes themselves as “street beat, psych pop.” The New York-based electro rock outfit delivers a fun and upbeat set, but also keeps things spacey and psychedelic with haunting, airy vocals and effects-tweaked instrumentation.

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Recap : Pitchfork Festival | Union Park, Chicago, IL | July 18th – 20th, 2014

After battling car trouble and visiting the best mechanic in Gary, we made it to Union Park just in time to catch Giorgio Moroder, the legendary Italian composer and producer of many disco era hits. He greeted the crowd with a big smile saying, “My name is Giovanni Giorgio, but you can call me Giorgio,” echoing what he says on the track “Giorgio by Moroder” on Daft Punk’s 2013 release Random Access Memories. Moroder carried the enthusiastic Pitchfork audience through a journey of some of the songs he wrote, produced or helped create, from “I Feel Love” to “Take My Breath Away.”

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Those in the crowd who were unfamiliar with his work were overheard commenting during his set:

“I love this guy. He’s so old. It’s amazing.”

“I feel like I’m watching my grandpa.”

“He’s actually not a DJ. He’s a composer, but just like, really famous.”

Giorgio thanked the crowd for their support and we prepared for the Friday headliner: Beck.

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Having never seen Beck, we were excited to see the unique songwriter and performer. The Scientologist rocker did not disappoint, opening up with the classic hit “Devil’s Haircut” followed by a variety of songs from his entire discography. After grabbing his acoustic guitar and playing some of his ‘softer’ material such as “Lost Cause,” Beck brought the energy level back up by paying homage to Giorgio Moroder with a cover of the Donna Summer hit “I Feel Love,” which Moroder had just played during his set.

The next morning, we enjoyed some much needed rest and brunch, and headed to the park early so we could capture the second day in its entirety. Our day of music started by catching the last half of a set by Brooklyn rapper Ka. His lyrics and presence are distinctly different from the ‘turn up’ style of the other hip hop acts who performed at this year’s festival.

Next on our agenda was Wild Beasts, a British band whose music provided an appropriately chill soundtrack to the early part of a warm and sunny Saturday.

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We ventured back to the Red Stage to see Cloud Nothings, which was originally a fake band created by lead singer and songwriter Dylan Baldi. The indie rock outfit from Cleveland rocked the stage with their straightforward, crisp post-punk sound, with drummer Jayson Gerycz acting like Animal from the Muppets.

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In an unprecedented move, rapper Pusha T arrived to the stage over 30 minutes late, but the crowd was quick to forgive him once his DJ started up. While running through his well-known tracks and feature verses, he followed the typical hip hop performance template of performing one-verse versions of tracks and repeatedly reminding everyone to make some noise. The mob of young females in mom jorts illuminated from their fascination with the former Clipse rapper.

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We headed over to see one of our most-anticipated shows of the weekend, tUnE-yArDs, the quirky project led by singer Merrill Garbus. I’m not sure why they use the alternating capital letters in their name, or where she got the hat Marty wore in Back to the Future II, or who did their makeup, but they put on an electric performance that had the crowd in a frenzy. Despite their appearance and sound, the lyrics are deeper than they might first appear. Songs such as Sink-O cover the broad topics such as ‘peace and love,’ though in a way that one would probably not expect. Garbus and the rest of the band delivered an incredibly enthusiastic performance that featured lots of fun, dancing, neon and wacky stage antics.

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We ventured over to the shaded Blue Stage to catch Kelela. Early in her set, she was thanking the crowd and acknowledging her being humbled by their presence and enthusiasm. She then sang original, chilling lyrics over the instrumental to the Jay-Z/Rick Ross track “F&%k With Me You Know I Got It.”

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Next on the Green Stage was Detroit native Danny Brown, the comical, light-hearted yet lyrically talented rapper. His DJ hyped up the crowd with a pre-show mini set of popular trap rap tracks before Danny came out, tongue sticking out and hair dyed green. He led the crowd through an energetic set of favorites such as “Smokin’ and Drinkin’” and “I Will.”

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While waiting to hear the next act, the highly anticipated performance from St. Vincent, we people watched for a bit as everyone shifted from stage to stage. In my opinion, St. Vincent’s Annie Clark was one of the most talent performers at this year’s Pitchfork Festival. She truly has everything a performer wants to have: beauty, dance moves, an incredible stage presence, a great voice and some sick guitar skills. One song featured elements of “Shout,” the pop classic from the 80’s synth pop group Tears For Fears. While our photographer headed to the next photo pit, I chatted with a group of cool folks for a few minutes, discussing our fondness for St. Vincent. The guy with whom I was chatting noticed my press credential and asked who we wrote for. I told him, “My Old Kentucky Blog,” and he responded by telling me that he religiously listens to @MyOldKYBlog Blog Radio show on Sirius XMU radio. Thanks for the conversation and kind words, and keep listening!

To wrap up the day, I headed back to the Blue Stage to meet up with our Ace with the Canon and catch part of FKA Twigs. New to me and fairly new to the scene, the London-based former dancer has a soulful, spacey and mystical style that somewhat resembles trip hop, but is also difficult to perfectly describe. Twigs, aka Tahliah Barnett, has a gorgeous voice and I’m hoping to get the chance to see her again in a smaller, indoor venue. Perhaps we’ll see MOKB bring her to Indy?

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Our third and final day started under a cloud of fatigue while catching the San Francisco-based post-metal group Deafheaven. This band is intense all around, from lead singer George Clarke’s piercing stares to their dynamic sounds that range from shoegazey mellowness to black metal screams.

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Next, we headed over to catch the quirky rapper Earl Sweatshirt. Clearly a part of the younger generation of rappers who have embraced an entirely different style from their hip hop forefathers, Earl instructed the crowd to sing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” before beginning his set. He referred to his DJ as his “school shooter” and went into his song “Kill,” perhaps not the classiest of moves but the crowd grew even more hyped. After pointing out an unassuming person in the crowd he jokingly called “Brett,” he went into the song “Molasses” and had the crowd singing along to the hook. I laughed as people even older than me sat and watched Earl’s set.

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Next, we wandered back over to the Blue Stage to catch the pop rock sounds of Dum Dum Girls. They clearly have drawn inspiration from the punk era, as their name borrows from both The Vaselines and Iggy Pop. Their sound had me wondering if they may have some influence from the early work of the B-52s. We caught a few minutes of their set and headed back over to the Red Stage.

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I made my debut in the photo pit for Schoolboy Q, aka the ‘Man of the Year.’ His performance energy was top notch, constantly moving around the stage and keeping the crowd’s attention the entire time.

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We then walked over to wait for Real Estate. It seemed like there were some sound issues at first, as the audio was at a much lower level than the other acts, but they nonetheless sounded great. More on the mellow side of things compared to their co-performers at Pitchfork, Real Estate has recently gained my attention following their 2014 release, Atlas. Their sound is somewhat of a pleasant psychedelic affair, and mildly reminiscent of fellow New Jersey-ans, Yo La Tengo. Their set included a cover of The Nerves’ song, “Paper Dolls.”

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Our Pitchfork 2014 experience concluded with the one and only Grimes. The female crowd at Union Park flocked to the stage to see their indie pop hero, and she performed with non-stop high energy. One can only assume that her pink leg warmers were specifically intended to support the aerobics-like performance that was filled with dancing by Grimes as well as her Jazzercise backup dancers. While she sipped something from a coffee mug on stage, I could only think one thing: she needs more energy? Simply put, Grimes killed it, frantically turning effects knobs on her keyboard synths, rarely pausing for a break.

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Pitchfork 2014 was another one for the books, and we look forward to returning to Chicago for the festival in 2015!

Festival : Fun Fun Fun Fest : November 7th -9th | Auditorium Shores | Austin, TX

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Pound for pound what may be the best festival in the land, Fun Fun Fun Fest, has announced the lineup for this years incarnation. It takes place in Austin, TX from November 7th -9th this year at Auditorium Shores and Butler Park. Just like previous years, the variety is incredible with multiple decades and genres of music covered.

The lineup will include the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel, Nas, Judas Priest, Death From Above 1979, Flying Lotus, Death Cab for Cutie, the New Pornographers, Girl Talk, Death Grips, Sky Ferreira, Sun Kil Moon, Deafheaven, Dinosaur Jr., Madlib and Freddie Gibbs, Run the Jewels, Angel Olsen, Guided By Voices, Yo La Tengo, Ginuwine, Dum Dum Girls, Majical Cloudz, 2 Chainz, Iceage, Foxygen, Courtney Barnett, First Aid Kit, Ryan Hemsworth, Black Lips, Metz, Pallbearer, King Tuff, King Diamond, Julianna Barwick, Tinariwen, J Mascis, Alt-J, Thundercat, Pissed Jeans, the Blood Brothers, Mas Ysa, Gary Numan, Chelsea Wolfe, Lunice, SZA, and so many more.

The festival will also feature a comedy stage with its lineup being announced on July 1st. Tickets go on sale today.

[Win This!] : Two Tickets for The Pains of Being Pure At Heart w/ Fear of Men & Ablebody : Zanzabar | May 16th | Louisville, KY

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For those in and around our old stomping ground of Louisville, Kentucky on May 16th, we highly recommend heading over to Zanzabar for trifecta of great acts performing. Headlining will be New York’s The Pains of Being Pure At Heart who have their new LP, Days of Abandon, hitting shelves a couple of days before. Supporting will be one of our favorite new acts of the past year, Brighton, England’s Fear of Men, who will be performing songs from their newly released debut LP, Loom, and LA’s Ablebody, who share members with The Pains of Being Pure At Heart and former members of The Depreciation Guild. Full concert information along with where to purchase tickets can be found here.

To reward one of our readers, we have a pair of tickets to giveaway. To enter, all you have to do his give us a shout at our Twitter handle @MyOldKYBlog and tell us the album or concert you have enjoyed or are looking forward to this year. Hashtag it #MOKBCONTEST. The winner will be picked at random with not scientific method being used.

Festival : Forecastle : Louisville, KY | July 18th – 20th

It looks like Louisville’s little festival, Forecastle, is all-grown up and ready to make it known that it is more than just a regional festival. They just announced the full lineup that will take place at the beautiful Waterfront Park on July 18th -20th.

To say the lineup is stacked, is an understatement. You will get to see headliners Beck, Jack White, The Replacements all the way down to St. Lucia, Sharon Van Etten, Sun Kil Moon, and so much more. Really, we could keep going on about all of the highlights. You can get the full details here along with your tickets. For all of you who waited until the last minute in years past, we suggest you get them early. This is sure to sell out!

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