Franz Ferdinand, Zane Lowe 6/4/17

(i) lineup

1a. Zane Lowe
2b. Franz Ferdinand

(1a) (Zane Lowe) setlist

    1. To quote Zane, “I’m doing 80 songs in 40 minutes, so let’s get it, New York!!!”
    2. does it matter what the songs were?

(1b) highlights

  • Zane Lowe indirectly helped shape my entire music taste and he certainly has no idea

(1c) lowlights

  • Zane Lowe indirectly helped shape my entire music taste and he certainly has no idea

(1d) overall thoughts

  • This image below includes the only important takeaways from the performance

IMG_20170617_004929

Bottom line: Zane Lowe was a Radio 1 DJ and legendary host of MTV’s Gonzo hour interviewing people I loved, and now resides at Apple Music interviewing dumb people I hate. He made me dance at Gov Ball, even when I thought he looked dumb. Good guy. Dumb banter, but good guy.

 

(2a) (Franz Ferdinand’s) setlist

    1. Jacqueline
    2. No You Girls
    3. The Dark of the Matinee
    4. Paper Cages
    5. Do You Want To
    6. The Fallen
    7. Walk Away
    8. Love Illumination
    9. Michael
    10. Always Ascending
    11. Take Me Out
    12. Ulysses
    13. This Fire

(2b) highlights

  • FRANZ!!!!!!
  • but but FRANZ!!!!
  • that setlist. like. what. Jacqueline. Dark of the Matinee. Michael. Ulysses. All of it.
  • Hit after hit after hit after hit, this band NEVER QUIT.
  • if you’ve never seen or heard a festival crowd sing along to probably one of the greatest guitar riffs of the last 30 years in a huge festival crowd, then you’ve never seen “Take Me Out” and you’ve never LIVED

(2c) lowlights

  • the first three rows of people were all there for some tool ass DJ named Logic and every bro in his crowd made me wanna commit suicide; none of them deserved to even be in Franz’s presence

(2d) overall thoughts

 

Franz Ferdinand were one of the first bands I ever listened to and truly loved. I remember having their debut Franz Ferdinand and 2005 hit You Could Have It So Much Better rotating in my CD player, along with Hot Fuss and the Hot Hot Heat album that came out that year. Their first two albums were so incredibly formative for me that it’s entirely possible my life would’ve gone a different direction had I not discovered them. That’s powerful.

Despite being a huge fan since Day 1, this show was only my second time seeing Franz. For some reason, they tend not to make it out to NYC – or American in general – all that often. The first time I saw them was only in 2013 and I still think that performance is one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. At Governor’s Ball, my friends and I were close to the stage, but trapped in a sea of non-Franz fans. I later learned that nearly everyone behind us, going back nearly 40 rows – which is notable considering they weren’t on a main stage – were there to see them, but at the time…it really felt like an intimate concert just for us. And I swear I’ll never forget it.

The interesting thing about desperately loving music that was popular over a decade ago is recognizing when that music, and the people that create them, start to feel their age. Franz Ferdinand absolutely captured a musical moment in time when they hit the scene in the early 2000s. Some people might even say that they created the scene, and I wouldn’t disagree with that. A bunch of art school kids, Franz transformed the post-punk revival into something that was dirty and gritty and from New York (a la Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Strokes) and made it something cool, slick, arty, dance-y, and fun. 90% of indie alternative bands out today would not exist if it weren’t for Franz Ferdinand and I will fight anyone who says different.

Opening with “Jacqueline,” “No You Girls,” and “Dark of the Matinee” perfectly reveals how resonating this band’s influence has been not only on music, but for fans. Even without having heard “Jacqueline” in years, aside from occasionally coming up on shuffle, I didn’t hesitate in the slightest when it was time to scream-sing, “It’s always better on holiday, so much better on holiday, that’s why we only work when we need the money.” I was back in my parents car with my CD player and headphones wrapped over my ears with those orange and brown, cracked CD cases.

Bottom line: Franz Ferdinand is iconic, not simply in what they did for music and the genre, but for their undeniable ability to bring joy and showmanship to performance. When other bands have found it easy to play their back catalog straightforwardly, Franz elevates their songs to classic status by throwing themselves completely into the sound. I pray this band never goes away, but if they do, their music will live on and there’s nothing more comforting than that.

Phoenix, Local Natives 6/3/17

(i) lineup

1a. Local Natives
2b. Phoenix

(1a) (Local Natives) setlist

    1. Jellyfish
    2. Wide Eyes
    3. You and I
    4. Airplanes
    5. Colombia
    6. I Saw You Close Your Eyes
    7. Ultralight Beam (Kanye West cover)
    8. Past Lives
    9. Fountain of Youth
    10. Dark Days
    11. Who Knows, Who Cares
    12. Sun Hands

(1b) highlights

  • first time seeing Local Natives who I’ve casually enjoyed since around 2010 when they first hit the scene and man, they were great
  • unexpectedly surprised by not only their stage presence but ability to keep such intimate tracks feel lively and awake in a festival format
  • normally I get annoyed when lead singers decide to crowd surf solely for the sake of making a set suddenly more interesting, but when Taylor Rice came into the crowd twice during the set, it felt so deliberate and genuinely fun
  • their lighting and simply yet pretty stage production was beautiful; it perfectly set the scene for these fellow Angelenos
  • the sun setting around the time their set was ending, and the dust was picking up at their stage – it reminded me of my home in LA in the best way

(1c) lowlights

  • nothing comes to mind – they came out and did exactly what they needed to

(1d) overall thoughts

Local Natives popped up in my life when I was having a difficult time a little less than a decade ago. I always liked them even though they were a bunch of hipsters from Silver Lake. They had goofy mustaches and their music videos looked like Urban Outfitters, sure. But unlike the usual pack of hacks out there, Local Natives also had the tunes.

And after this performance, I realized that they have the presence and performing chops too. Taylor Rice and Kelcey Ayer take turns on lead vocals, guitar, and keyboards, harmonizing in that sweet spot of Beach Boys-inspired and pre-folk explosion that happened because of half-ass bands like Lumineers and Mumford and Sons. Local Natives’ songs are sweet and floaty and fit right in around the Coachella Valley, sure, but they have a lasting effect because they come from some place real. “You and I” practically floats across the stage and dances in the light, and is there a sweeter sunset-y singalong than “Who Knows, Who Cares”? You don’t want to miss these guys live.

 

Bottom line: To the uncultured eye, Local Natives might get lost in the sea of same-y folksy LA-transplants, but they’re so much more than that. Their stage presence, resonating harmonies, and purposeful guitar work really makes them memorable and standout.

 

(2a) (Phoenix’s) setlist

    1. Ti Amo
    2. Lasso
    3. Entertainment
    4. Lisztomania
    5. J-Boy
    6. Long Distance Call
    7. Fences
    8. Try To Be Cool / Drakkar Noir
    9. Lovelife
    10. S.O.S. In Bel Air
    11. Role Model
    12. Girlfriend
    13. Love Like A Sunset Part 1 / Bankrupt! / Love Like A Sunset Part 2
    14. If I Ever Feel Better / Funky Squaredance
    15. Armistice
    16. Rome
    17. Fior di Latte
    18. Meant
    19. 1901
    20. Ti Amo Di Piu

(2b) highlights

  • Phoenix!!!! Those dudes have such class, style, and grace – so damn French
  • yo, I don’t know if Warren Fu is the man responsible, but Phoenix have the dopest stage set-up I’ve seen in recently memory. A giant panel of mirrors is all you need for endless joy and entertainment
  • everyone in Phoenix feels so refined and older than their contemporaries, and I’m so into it
  • have you ever heard a band write so many catchy earworms that don’t make you wanna die? me either.
  • Love. Like. A. Sunset. enough said.

(2c) lowlights

  • they could’ve played for another hour and I would’ve been into it
  • the crowd could’ve and should’ve been bigger – I blame the fact that Childish Gambino was playing the opposite stage at the same time

(2d) overall thoughts

I first encountered Phoenix sometime in late 2005, early 2006. I undoubtedly saw their name in fine print somewhere in NME or Uncut or Mojo or Spin, and wrote their name down as a band to not forget. To me, they were always that “fun, French band,” and then somehow, just when I forgot about them, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix dropped into the world and every car commercial ever was never the same.

When Phoenix got huge, I had no idea how to respond. What happens when a bunch of older dudes finally hit it off with their fifth album? Luckily, Phoenix didn’t completely lose their minds and instead decided to put out pure joy with Ti Amo, and brought all that passion to the stage. Words can’t do their production justice; few bands can so easily meld sound, aesthetics, and production into such a complete package. You watch Phoenix perform one live song on their stage and you suddenly feel like you understand them as a band. New Order is another band that comes to mind that really nails this combination of performance and art, but no one’s doing it like Phoenix today.

There’s few things I respect more than when big bands headline at festivals and skip over the obvious tracks to play deep cuts and objectively “unsuitable” tracks. “Love Like A Sunset” doesn’t belong at any festival but a song never felt so appropriate for a summer night on Randall’s Island than that one. The reds, oranges, and yellows washed over the crowd in real-time and in the reflection of the giant mirror that framed the performers. Yeah, everyone danced when “Lisztomonia” started, but everyone felt when “Love Like A Sunset” hit like a sonic boom.

 

Bottom line: Phoenix are not only clearly impeccable songwriters, but they’ve manage to create the perfect marriage of sound, aesthetic, and art that elevates every performance to another place. Their contemporaries better recognize what Phoenix brings to the world, because – from where I’m sitting – it’s nothing but light.

The Strokes, Bloc Party, Father John Misty 6/3/16

(i) lineup

1a. Father John Misty
2b. Bloc Party
3c. The Strokes

(1a) (Father John Misty’s) setlist

    1. Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings
    2. When You’re Smiling and Astride Me
    3. Only Son of the Ladiesman
    4. Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
    5. Bored in the USA
    6. Holy Shit
    7. True Affection
    8. I Love You, Honeybear
    9. The Ideal Husband

(1b) highlights

  • ommgggggggg, Father John Mistyyyyyyyyyy
  • I had been looking forward to this show for months and was so not disappointed; I finally listened to I Love You, Honeybear towards the end of last year and WOW, what a phenomenal album
  • I seriously lost my shit when “Chateau Lobby #4” started; that song is flawless from beginning to end, done
  • not only was this setlist such a surprise and presented in such a fresh order, but Josh Tillman’s self-awareness and meta-modern approach to each song’s presentation in itself was so stupidly entertaining
  • to quote my friend who knows very little about FJM: “I didn’t know a man could move his hips that way” – what a show
  • “I Love You, Honeybear” and “The Ideal Husband” coupled together were like the two most energetic and beautiful pairings of live performance, god, I can’t underscore how good this was
  • (side note: Danny Masterson from That 70’s Show was on the side of the stage? what a bizarre world we live in)

(1c) lowlights

  • basically nothing whatsoever, except maybe the one douchebag in the crowd would was unnecessarily mean to everyone around him

(1d) overall thoughts

I was always a fan of Fleet Foxes and was hesitant in approaching Father John Misty at first. I tend to be turned-off by general folk music and even more turned off when people seriously cite Bob Dylan as an influence, but Father John Misty is so much more than that. It’s complex but FJM aka Josh Tillman is so highly aware of what it means to be a musician, and specifically a folk musician who’s white and male and has a long beard, and subverts all of that with his performance and mocking lyrics. I freaking love it so much.

Tillman plays up his strengths and his incredibly underrated backing band knows exactly when to drive it home and when to let Tillman shine. His super fresh setlist and uninhibited performance let the audience “in” on the self-aware joke that the band is apparently telling. That’s really the important thing that separates FJM from other groups that try to be as self-aware (Joywave comes to mind) – as a member of the audience, you never feel like FJM is mocking you; he’s mocking the whole subgenre, the whole performance, and the whole idea of it, but you’re in on the joke yourself. It’s great. And oh, the songs themselves are incredible – you can’t ever forget that.

Bottom line: Father John Misty was so freaking incredible, that I wish I could follow that dude around for the rest of his tour. Amazing songs that shouldn’t work in a festival setting become so elevated through a self-aware performance that it’s no wonder how massive the crowd was that day at Governor’s Ball.

(2a) (Bloc Party’s) setlist

    1. Hunting For Witches
    2. Positive Tension
    3. Virtue
    4. Exes
    5. Song For Clay (Disappear Here)
    6. Banquet
    7. The Love Within
    8. Mercury
    9. Flux (w/ Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” intro)
    10. This Modern Love
    11. Like Eating Glass
    12. Octopus
    13. Helicopter
    14. Ratchet

(2b) highlights

  • t h a t  s e t l i s t  wtfffffff
  • “Like Eating Glass”!!! I lost it!!!! “This Modern Love”!!! what!! “Mercury”!!! dead!
  • for real, though – what an incredible array of songs, I was so shocked at the inclusion of so much of Silent Alarm
  • the band had so much energy – Kele mentioned it was the last stop of their American tour – and it seriously made all the difference in the world
  • the Prince cover was kinda great – last time I saw Bloc Party they covered Bowie, which was better, but “I Would Die 4 U” was super cool too
  • not one but TWO different girls threw their bras toward the stage, I have never laughed so hard in my entire life, did they not know that Kele is gay, I literally could not breathe, god that was freaking amazing

(2c) lowlights

  • this set was seriously so good; there was nothing bad about it

(2d) overall thoughts

I saw Bloc Party for the first time only a few months ago after loving them for over 10 years, and that show didn’t quite live up to my expectations. But I knew this performance was on the horizon and I wanted to give Bloc Party a second chance. And this Governor’s Ball performance was so much better in every way. Kele Okereke was in good spirits, the whole band had great energy, and the setlist was much less uneven.

The crowd was overwhelmingly into every song – not only the hits – and every song felt so special. I’ve heard “Like Eating Glass” come up on my shuffle a dozen times over the last few months and I never thought Bloc Party would ever play it, especially at a festival, so it was that much more of a shock when that drum beat started. Is it still a bit sad that drummer Matt Tong and bassist Gordon Moakes are gone? Yeah, but those songs are elevated above that band drama. Bloc Party are incredible and this performance is definitely one I’ll never forget.

Bottom line: This Gov Ball show totally killed and the band definitely vindicated themselves for me personally; the crowd was awesome and, come on, two girls actually threw their bras onstage – what a time to be alive!

(3a) (The Strokes’) setlist

    1. The Modern Age
    2. Soma
    3. The Threat of Joy
    4. What Ever Happened?
    5. Under Cover of Darkness
    6. Alone, Together
    7. Electricityscape
    8. Ask Me Anything
    9. Take It Or Leave It
    10. Drag Queen
    11. Someday
    12. Red Light
    13. Clampdown (The Clash cover)
    14. Heart in a Cage
    15. Last Nite
    16. Trying Your Luck
    17. Reptilia
    18. Hard to Explain
    19. Juicebox

Encore:

  1. You Only Live Once

(3b) highlights

  • the last third of the setlist when The Strokes remembered that they’re the goddamn Strokes and no one but Strokes apologists care about Angles or Comedown Machine
  • actually taking it easy during this show and laying in the grass at Randall’s Island with my best friends, eyes closed, hearing the literal songs of my youth echo across miles of a New York City island
  • having our own dance party during the last 5 or so songs – air drumming and playing on-point air guitar and singing along with 4 other friends – putting on our own version of The Strokes (I alternated between being Albert and Fab <3) – so, so much fun hearing those classic songs again
  • everyone loves fireworks

(3c) lowlights

  • Julian Casablancas: “so, uh, we never play encores – we didn’t for our first three albums…and we didn’t the other night. and all these assholes booed us. so whatever, here’s our encore. are there even other bands playing here? whatever, I guess have fun. goodnight.” (I’m paraphrasing but BARELY. “Are there even other bands playing here?” I love you, Julian, but damn you’re a douche. Albert was literally performing his solo material the next day. And it was Friday. Did you really think this was a one-day festival with you as the star?? Calling your own fans assholes for not playing an encore? Literally bye.)
  • when bands sell t-shirts with a specific song on it at a festival, but then don’t play that song (*cough* “New York City Cops” *cough*)

(3d) overall thoughts

Like any respectable alternative rock ‘n’ roll fan alive in the 2000’s, I love The Strokes. I actually saw them for the first time at the 2014 Governor’s Ball where they played a midday set, which now feels strangely odd to think about. I had a good time then, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by them. They had great songs and the crowd was super into it, but the band’s we-don’t-give-a-shit attitude was so put-on and I was over it. That affectation was very much present at this Gov Ball performance, but I expected it this time, so it didn’t rub me the wrong way.

I personally haven’t really liked much of The Strokes’ material since 2005’s First Impressions of Earth, which is sort of crazy because I remember a lot of people disliking that album when it came out. I don’t inherently think their earlier work is better because it’s their earlier work, I just wasn’t drawn to anything on Angles or Comedown Machine in a real way. Their newest EP Future Present Past does have hints of greatness, but I’ve overwhelmingly been partial to Albert Hammond Jr.’s work over the last decade.

Either way – regardless of Casablanca’s comments and the band generally looking like they don’t like performing or care about the audience – I had a good time. Those songs mean something to people and it was a pretty cool environment to watch all that happen. I enjoyed this performance more than the first time I saw them and I really think that proves that having friends around means something.

Bottom line: The Strokes are always gonna be The Strokes and that means something to different people. I hope the band keeps putting out new music and stops acting too cool for school, but we can all dream, right?