Album Review: Kings of Leon – WALLS


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The year of 2016 has marked the beginning and the end of a plethora of items and people.  Over the course of the year we have lost music icons such as David Bowie and Prince to name a few; however, we have also seen new releases by formidable artists and performers such as Green Day, The Weeknd, Metallica, Radiohead, etc.  One of such releases comes from American alternative-rock band Kings of Leon with their seventh studio album titled “WALLS” (We Are Like Love Songs).  Although arguably not a masterpiece, WALLS delivers familiar Kings of Leon staples reminiscent of their material eight years prior that are both energetic and relaxing.
Alternative-rock as a genre itself can be dismissed as one that is characterized by an overuse of delay, distortion, fuzz, power chords, and underdeveloped melodies that are forgettable; however, WALLS takes these familiar elements and blends them smoothly with subtle embellishments and instrumentation to offer a bit of variety.  In the opening track, “Waste A Moment”, listeners are presented with an upbeat, almost pop-oriented single that is full of energy and announces the band’s presence with their signature overtones and gain-filled rifts.  The result is a simple, yet fun way of demonstrating that this in part is the band listeners have come to enjoy over the years, yet they have changed slightly since the last time we have heard them.  The latter effect becomes apparent at the album’s midpoint with tracks such as “Find Me” and “Muchacho”, which introduce synthesizers, rhythmic sampling, whistling, and other subtle instrumental embellishments that diversify each individual tune.
Despite these small innovations, the tracks themselves are still characteristically Kings of Leon tracks that do not stand out among the discography that they have established over the years.  “Find Me”, for example, is primarily driven by a semi-complex guitar riff that appears at the track’s beginning and makes subsequent appearances with each chorus.  This is not particularly a bad thing; however, this focus on familiarity and on what we have come to expect is exactly what makes a majority of the tracks rather predictable.  Though the synthesizer usage is present briefly in the beginning and sporadically though each verse, it is a lack of utilization of these devices that makes tunes such as “Find Me” fun but relatively forgettable.  Aside from this, active listeners will also recognize a familiarity in structure.  Yes, I refer to the typical Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus.  Though there is not necessarily anything wrong with this standard format, this additional limitation does not serve the band justice in these instances.  In this listener’s opinion: “I get that it works, cool, but I am getting bored”.
The Kings of Leon have always been a band that strikes me as not too innovative in regards to new styles of music, but rather, one that seeks to improve upon a genre that is adored and enjoyed by thousands throughout the world.  They have demonstrated time and time again that they are good at what they do, and I commend them for that; however, it is time to change.  What else does the Followill gang have to offer?  Until that time, enjoy more of the Kings of Leon you have come to love.

I give WALLS, a 3 out of 5.

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Album Review: Tacocat – Lost Time


TacoCatAt first glance, Tacocat seems like a very innocuous thing. The four-piece band’s name comes across as disarming and playful with sunny instrumentation to match.

Yet, to overlook the depth of Tacocat’s music, their “bubblegum rock,” is to do the band a disservice.

“Lost Time,” an album made up of 12 poignant looks at life, picks up where Tacocat last left off in every regard.

The instrumentation on “Lost Time” feels largely similar to the band’s last album, “NVM,” it’s the writing that has become blunter. Singer Emily Nokes’ skill for introspection and observation elevates Tacocat where so many other bands falter.

In a perfect world we’d receive a balanced expression of both sides of gender politics within music, but in our messy reality Nokes’ willingness to address the social issues that others dance around or weakly acknowledge is refreshing.

“Lost Time” is never pandering and never hits you over the head. In fact, it’s fun through and through. Even as the world ends on “I Love Seattle,” as the city falls into the ocean succumbing to earthquakes and tsunamis, Tacocat will joyously tell you the city feels so much like home they’d never want to leave.

Though, the importance of what Tacocat is doing comes from their social commentary.

“Men Explain Things to Me” says it all starting with its title and carrying into its lyrics (“Don’t tell me what to do / My feelings won’t subdue / Just because you told them to”). Nokes directly addresses the clichéd roles of gender through smartly employed metaphors, such as moving off of a walkway for men who take up the entire sidewalk, and voices her frustration (“We get it dude / We’ve already heard enough from you / The turning point is overdue”).

Tacocat confidently offers a female perspective on topics we typically see addressed by men. “You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit” (a reference to the Nirvana song “Scentless Apprentice,” similar to their last album’s title paying homage to Nirvana’s “Nevermind”) involves Nokes asking for a past relationship to take her back, but only so she can break up with them in return.

Nokes’ gaze then falls on “The Internet.” Here, the “Hate from the basement / Hate from the insecure,” from the anonymous and from the “mosquitos” is addressed. It’s a song with a rhetorical question, asking what right a random individual has to make a judgement over another they’ve never met.

Conversely, “Talk” looks at the disconnect between two individuals within the same room (“Together, together, alone / Stay true, true to your phone”) and the all-too-common inclination for two individuals to sit next to each other entrenched in their own phones. Nokes points out that she simply wants to use the time to talk, maybe even dance if the situation allows.

“Lost Time” culminates in the song “Leisure Bees,” a well-executed metaphor reminding the listener to “Take your time because / It’s your time to take.” Here, Nokes wisely explains that success in life is an entirely subjective term. Success doesn’t have to be based on work, it can be something as simple as your happiness.

It’s a fitting closing to “Lost Time” because Tacocat is ultimately using the album to communicate the importance of the individual. After all, “the values that you want / Are the ones that you can make.”

 

Emiliano is a DJ at KSSU

Album Review: Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger


TySegallAlbumAt this point in his career the only thing more wild than Ty Segall’s output, this being Segall’s 16th album in eight years, are the touring personas he has adopted for his new album, “Emotional Mugger.”

Segall keeps in character throughout all his performances, whether it be on NPR, where he adamantly refuses to break character and answer questions with utter nonsense, or The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where Segall’s face-painted candy-tossing antics clearly leave the crowd on edge.

Of course, the seeming insanity all serves a purpose as Segall has decided to avoid all publicity. He staves off interviews and photos on this tour with the help of various masks, hoods and face paint befitting the characters of the album’s respective songs.

Perhaps tired of the media circus that accompanies any album release, Segall instead allows his live performances speak for themselves. Here, he is willingly aided by his backing band The Muggers in his various antics, the band includes guitarist King Tuff and the drummer for the band WAND, Evan Burrows, among others.

Segall’s garage-rock album “Emotional Mugger” is the perfect platform for these antics.

Produced by Segall and F. Burmudez, the album’s 11 tracks maintain the lo-fi aesthetic of Segall’s previous work with everything from Segall’s voice, saturated with delay, to the heavy distortion of each guitar.

The album opens with its strongest track, “Squealer,” which featured a strong bassline and melody combination that carrier the track into the grimy “California Hills.” This next track feels intentionally monotonous as Segall drags on about “affluent life” before a jarring tempo change that dips out as quickly as it came in.

The album’s title track “Emotional Mugger/Leopard Priestess” follows and ends up setting a good example for the album’s mixing. The instrumentation here is well spaced out allowing for heavy distortion of the guitars, panned to the left and right sides, and for the placement of the drums to move throughout the song.

The placement of the instruments essentially follows this formula throughout the album to mixed results. For example, the song “Breakfast Eggs” plays with the left and right panned guitars with the left guitar cutting in and out of harmony with the right.

The most interesting example of playing with the mixing is “Candy Sam” as the song alternates left to right between drum patterns of varying intensity.

But, even with its abrasiveness and constant energy, “Emotional Mugger” can feel a bit rote. Even with its creative mixing songs can become repetitive with some feeling like filler tracks.

“Diversion” is the best example of a low point despite all of its energy. A cover of a song of the same name by the 1960s band The Equals, it feels out of place in every way expect for its subject matter.

“Emotional Mugger” comes to a conclusion with “The Magazine,” it’s a slow song that seems to eventually just die out. At this point it becomes obvious that this album’s fixation with the baby character and the idea of candy might be a larger statement on society from Segall, namely the over-indulgence of ego.

Although not his best work, “Emotional Mugger” is Ty Segall’s most obvious statement on society, and its best songs make up for its shortcomings with the appeal of their abrasive energy.

Emiliano is a DJ with KSSU

Charlie Hilton’s solo-debut “Palana”


charlieThe line between a musician’s work and themselves, their stage persona and their identity, can often be hard to discern. It’s something that can even become unclear for the artist themselves.

For singer Charlie Hilton, the decision to give her birth name to her debut solo album was a way to maintain her identity instead of merely shoving it “under the rug,” as she told SFGate. “I was running away from this other version of myself – at least that’s how you feel when you change your name,” referring to her birth name “Palana.”

“Palana” as an album is a clear extension of independent label Captured Tracks’ recent success with the laidback music of acts such as Mac DeMarco, DIIV and Blouse. The New York-based label has previously released two albums with Hilton and her band Blouse and, in some ways, “Palana” feels like it could be a continuation of the band’s work.

In terms of tone, Hilton agrees that the album is melancholy and goes on to say that it deals with “inner-conflict.” But, “Palana” ultimately takes on the tone of a relaxing mid-morning as it incorporates dreamy synths over either a drum machine or live drums and a multitude of guitar tones. The whole album ebbs and flows between feeling upbeat and sleepy.

With “Palana,” Hilton and Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Jacob Portrait achieve 11 tracks of nostalgic sound in their production.

Beginning with its title track, “Palana” instantly becomes a dreary reflection-of-self before launching into track two, “Something for Us All.” Here, the tone of the instrumentation immediately picks up with three drum-driven beat changes, including a breakbeat in the middle of the song. Hilton’s lyrics, however, maintain their somber tone (“If happiness is something for us all / Then go ahead and tell me what it’s like”).

The following track, “Pony,” contains a very straightforward metaphor (“Get off my back, I’m not your pony / I’m getting tired of what you’re handing out / You think you know, but you don’t know me”), and serves as a good representation of the album’s simplicity. It’s a simplicity that mainly works to Hilton’s benefit when expressing such heavy subject matter.

There are moments on “Palana” where the album’s simplicity begins to work against itself, most notably during tracks four through seven, which feel lackluster compared to such a strong opening and ending. Track seven, “Let’s Go to the Party,” ultimately becomes the repetition of the line “I’m only happy when I’m dancing for you.” Although it is a strong statement when contrasted against the earlier “I’m only happy when I’m dancing with you,” the line itself doesn’t properly sustain the last half of the song.

Hilton and Portrait quickly regain their composure with the following track, “Snow.” At a much needed moment in the album, a saxophone is introduced to the instrumentation providing an interesting jazzy quality to the song and giving the album a renewed sense of energy. Track nine, “The Young,” also implements a saxophone, but to less success; here, it almost sounds out of place in various moments.

“Palana” ends on a more carefree note with the track “100 Million.” It features Mac DeMarco on guitar while howling his backing vocals. The track cements Hilton’s words to SFGate, the sentiment that her melancholy tone isn’t a problem and that it is, in fact, “just natural.”

Despite its flaws, “Palana” is overall a well-put-together album. It is an introspective look at the identity of an individual and a confident solo-debut. And, like any good individual, its positive attributes outweigh its missteps.

 

Emiliano is a dj on KSSU

Beirut’s No No No is Pretty Pretty Good


1433178285.671_beirut-no-no-no-575x575If, for some abstract reason, you follow my reviews on this blog you’ll know that I apply the concept “regression to the mean” to just about everything. Folks, I’ve found another case with Beirut’s new LP No No No.

I’ve always really enjoyed Beirut’s music. Front man Zach Condon has always drawn from exceptionally hip sources to influence his writing from Eastern European folk music to a full, Mexican brass band.

Condon’s compositions are habitually repetitive and layered and No No No is no outlier. However, this time Condon seems to have drawn from the pop idiom as an influence. It’s certainly not a bad thing; all the tracks are catchy and easy to listen to. The vanilla harmonic structure leaves the ear wanting more; and especially when the record ends at an abrupt 29 minutes.

I was a little disappointed at the lack of horn usage, but Condon picked up the slack with the addition of buttery strings and just a smidgen of synth to spice things up a little.

There are plenty of things that catch the ear, but you really have to listen for them. They don’t necessarily slap you in the face. That being said, track nine, “Fener,” has a metric modulation right in the middle that totally takes you off guard. If I’m speaking above your head that means there was a time change, or the pace or tempo changed. I was tapping my foot like a crazy person to see if it was a hip polyrhythm superimposed onto the first part but I couldn’t discern anything. Or maybe I’m not hip enough…

All in all, No No No is a good record and I’d recommend it. But without sounding too passé, I’m more of a fan of Beirut’s earlier work. Especially if you really want to capture the true essence of their sound.

Devan is a DJ on KSSU

Deerhunter Album Review


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If you are wondering where the hell popular music is going these days, it is actually right back to where we started. This phenomenon is clearly stated in the theory of “Regression to the Mean.” That means, everything has a tendency to drift back to the average. That’s why your favorite team performs a little worse the next season after a great run. It is normal, and it even applies to Deerhunter’s new release Fading Frontier. The band, beginning with their debut release Cryptograms, explored some pretty out there sounds relative to the world of indie-pop.

But Fading Frontier is the most cut and dry Deerhunter drop to date. Its format is pretty standard: vocals, guitar, bass, drums, and some electronic effects interspersed here and there. The record is relatively short, weighing in at 9 tracks just under 37 minutes. Unlike previous releases, this record’s sound is clean and crisp departing from the super washy, yet somehow gritty sound they have achieved in the past.

Overall, this record lacks energy for the type of pop they are going for here. In prior records they’ve captured the chill vibe perfectly. Fading Frontier leaves you wanting more: a longer record and a skosh more rock ‘n’ roll.

However, that’s not to say there are some awesome cuts of this record. “Take Care” is a dreamy ¾ time jam. Following “Take Care” is “Leather and Wood,” an empty, mellow, and tormented addition to the record that is the sonic outlier of the record that sets up the next cut, “Snakeskin,” with surprising contrast. “Snakeskin” is funky and bombastic with a super interesting harmonic structure, minor to major, that catches the ear. It is certainly my favorite track with a vibe similar to a band called White Denim that you should definitely check out if you dig Deerhunter.

Devan plays music on KSSU usually Jazz.

Depression Cherry Review


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Starting on August 28th, friends and social media have been going nuts for a recent record from a band that has previously flown under my radar. My inner hipster reacted typically by avoiding the band altogether. Praise for this record got louder and louder and I ultimately gave in to my curiosity. Now you can add my voice to the cacophony.

Search Beach House on Google and Wikipedia describes them as a “dream pop duo” which is an absolutely spot-on characterization. French native Victoria Legrand and Baltimore’s Alex Scally have been making music together since 2004 which makes me disappointed I haven’t heard of them sooner.

Their latest release, Depression Cherry is where indie-pop and chillwave meet. The whole record is mellow and introspective with a texture I can only describe as creamy. Give it a listen and you’ll feel as though you’re walking through a thick mist. The Northern California coast comes to mind. An artist can achieve an ether-like sound with a couple of simple devices all of which can be heard on this record. One of which is repetition. Many of the sections in the songs repeat quite a few times with colors and sounds wafting in and out. This creates a trance-like feel and extends each song by quite a bit putting the mean track length at around five minutes. By no means does this take away from the song. It makes me think the album was composed in sort of a daze.

This, however, brings me to my one criticism of the record: there are little to no distinguishable qualities about each track. I didn’t really notice that the record ended nor could I tell you one track from another. This could easily be a symptom of only listening through twice, but hey, it’s the only bad thing I have to say.

The explosion of this record made me realize another thing that I love: their record label, Carpark Records. Most of the artists on the scene are signed to a large, catchall label that’s only objective is to generate revenue. Most boutique labels have long but died out, however the artisan culture that has been brewing in recent years has given rise to some incredible sounds. Carpark is home to many artists I love: Skylar Spence, Toro Y Moi, Dan Deacon, Speedy Ortiz and on and on. Carpark is capitalizing on sounds they like plus sounds that are popular while still letting artists do their thing. Toro Y Moi records their records in the leader’s living room!

So here’s what the doctor prescribes: listen to music by label. Check out all the artists on a label that produces a sound you dig; Carpark, 4ad, Jagjaguwar, Warp, Partisan and so many more like them. It will expand your musical horizons, your musical awareness, and you will discover a bunch of bands your friends have never heard of.

But I digress. Depression Cherry is a good record that well deserves the hype in my social media sphere.

Devan is a DJ with KSSU

Skylar Spence is Prom King with New Release


prom-king-560x560Right now, in 2015, the 80’s are in style in American popular music. But with a new release from Skylar Spence, the 70’s appear to be creeping in. Beginning as Saint Pepsi (changed because of obvious legal reasons) Ryan DeRobertis rocketed to the forefront of the chillwave and vaporwave scenes remixing disco. Now he has made the decision to bring his own voice into his music – literally. Prom King is a batch of tunes of DeRobertis’ original music featuring himself on vocals. The entire record is catchy, ultra danceable, and super accessible although – I hate to admit – too complex for the mainstream airwaves despite the success of the track “Fiona Coyne.”

Perhaps I consider the record accessible because it deals with themes related to being a young male in America trying to find his way: wooing a girl, falling in love, being cheated on, vanity, and so on. These themes seem trite and a little hackneyed, but Skylar Spence frames them in a different way that teases out the sensitive side of men in American culture. In “Can’t You See,” an explosive single, DeRobertis addresses vanity but as a cloak for anxiety, “I’m in love with my own reflection” he sings. Skip forwards a couple tracks and you’ll encounter “I Can’t be Your Superman” a very personal story of a tough relationship with a friend. In an interview with Billboard DeRobertis said, “Superman is a song about a friend who was living very dangerously for a while. Around the time I wrote the song, I realized I was kind of an enabler of this behavior by not acknowledging the problem, but things soured as soon as I opened my mouth about it. It’s not easy to help anyone who doesn’t see the problem themselves, and that’s where the song stems from.”

Not only does this record contain myriad complex emotions and feelings, but they are nested in music that complements them flawlessly. This is what made the greats great – their lyrical sense. Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald always considered the lyrics to shape the arc of the song, their phrasing, and dynamics. DeRobertis seems to pay close attention to the lyrics and as a result created extra layers and depth to the songs and not to mention this record grooves like HELL. No record dropped in a long time has inspired my body to move so much. It is a disco-pop wonderland that sets itself apart from other popular dance music because of its amplified musicality. Many tracks even harken back to his Saint Pepsi days with excellent instrumentals that include brassy horn stabs and brilliant string quartet colors especially “Bounce is Back.”

All nuance and complexity aside, Prom King is still excruciatingly fun and if you listen to it its guaranteed to end up on your gym playlist immediately as it did for me. All in all, Prom King is an excellent record and is definitely worth the purchase.

Side Note: Check out his other releases under the moniker Saint Pepsi. Hit Vibes is available for free on Bandcamp and is highly recommended.

Devan is a DJ with KSSU

The Moments that made TBD Fest


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My good friend Jerel and partner in crime for TBD Fest just put up his all encompassing TBD wrap up blog, which you can check out here. In it he covered all the broad strokes of the festival experience, highlighting all the different bands we saw, food we ate and artistic installations we witnessed. So in interest of not covering the same ground I bring to you a more microscopic look at TDB through the lens of my favorite individual moments of TBD. Each festival is a collection of miniature moments forged by the fires of the collective consciousness and frenetic energy that is unique to each individual event. This is a celebration of those moments which helped to make the second annual TBD Fest the powerhouse of artistic expression it ended up being.

I’ll start with the first and altogether funniest moment I experienced at TBD. During Joywave’s entire set they had kept the crowd entertained, not only with their killer and perfectly sequenced set but also with the jokes and witty charisma of lead man Daniel Armbruster. However, nothing that came before it was quite as funny as when Armbruster began the chants of “one more song,” essentially calling for his own encore. Armbruster feigned surprise at such an outpouring of support and proclaimed that this had to be the very first encore in TBD Fest history. Having got his laughs and the “encore” he wanted, Armbruster and his fellow band mates kicked off the last song and tore down the house in magnificent style.

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The next moment comes to you in the form of a song, more specifically a cover song. Even more specifically Tears for Fears cover of 1992 Radiohead mega-hit “Creep”. Now this moment really resonated with me for two reasons, even outside of how brilliantly it was performed. First and foremost, as any good rock historian will tell you, there is no way in hell you will hear “creep” performed by it’s original makers. With all the vitriolic hate Radiohead have for for the song it might even be best experienced as a cover. Despite all of the negative vibes surrounding this song it still holds a special place in my musical history and I’m glad to have seen it live in one capacity or another. Secondly and perhaps more deeply, I could not help but feel a sense of a changing of the guard occurring. No Tears for Fears are still clearly a cultural powerhouse being able to headline festivals in 2015 and Radiohead aren’t exactly the new kids on the block anymore but to me this cover signaled a nod of respectful appreciation from the 80s to the 90s. A retroactive vote of confidence and plea of appreciation for carrying the tradition of odd outsider music for the next generation. Perhaps that’s me just being sentimental though.

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This next chewy morsel of festival good will has less to do with a particular artist and more to do with the festival goers themselves. Allow me to set the stage. The Black Lips had been putting on quite the show for their whole set, talking in weird voices, shouting out to their potentially imaginary friend Luna, and generally being quality showmen. A bit of a light mosh pit had been forming and had slowly been gaining speed as the set went on. This caught the eye of someone who I assume was The Black Lips roadie, as he was up on stage with them at one point. This man, who was a larger individual, came down off the stage to provide a buffer between the rowdy moshers and the people near the front of the stage who had no interest in moshing. As The Black Lips counted off their last song Jerel and I jumped into the pit, correctly predicting it would be the final mosh of the festival. As we aggressively pranced about I noticed a particularly wild mosher continually slamming around and getting pushed back by the resident “larger man” mosh boss. As the song continued on they began exchanging heated words and I immediately smelled a fight brewing. The tension did not subside but managed not to boil over for the remainder of the fight. As The Black Lips said their goodbye and the crowd began to disperse, before I even knew what was happening both men were in an lovingly respectful embrace! I could not quite hear what they were saying but I imagine it was along the lines of “thanks for keeping me in line man, I really respect that,” “I respect you too man, take care of yourself and have a good festival.” Now that might be a little far off but the crux of why I liked this moment so much was the way in which festivals can bring out each person’s camaraderie and I certainty felt that camaraderie at TBD.

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Lastly but not leastly we come to none other than Chicago native Chance the Rapper. My personal favorite performer of the entire weekend. This moment ends up being a bit more aqueous than the previous moments but it started as soon as Chance kicked off his set. Bringing an energy and closeness to the audience unmatched throughout the whole festival, Chance immediately had us on his side. Even though I was not familiar with every Chance the Rapper cut, I would sing along every time that I could halfway catch on to the choruses.  The crowd seemed to be giving all the energy they had and Chance was dishing it right back at us in a monumental showing of skill and passion. Suddenly the mood slowed down as Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment began to chill down and vibe. Chance then proclaimed he was gonna play a song we never heard before but one we all knew the words to. I immediately assumed it would be an old school rap/R&B throwback, one of which I was hoping I would in fact know the words to so that I would not let my new found hero Chance the Rapper down.  However, I could not have been more wrong as Chance began to sing “And I said hey.” Now I will give you a second to ponder what that line might be from…but I myself immediately recognized it as being the Arthur theme song. For those that are not in the know Arthur was a PBS kids show in the 90s era and it had arguably one of, if not the best theme songs of the decade. Along with being a killer tune, the Arthur theme song has a wonderful message of learning to work and play and get along with each other. At this point I am ecstatic along with the rest of the crowd as Chance the Rapper, Donnie Trumpet, and The Social Experiment throw down a deconstructed and all around awesome rendition of one of my favorite childhood memories. Needless to continue to say, that was my favorite moment of TBD Fest.

Sylvan Esso – A Concert Experience


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Just a couple weeks ago I went to a concert I think you guys should know about. And I’d like you to know that I will check my jazz snobbery at the door. The group is called Sylvan Esso, an indie pop duo from Durham, North Carolina composed of Amelia Meath on the mic and Nick Sanborn producing, and they are currently blowing the socks off of the indie AND dance scene. Their eponymous record has been out for a year and it is easily my favorite record of 2014. It’s unique beats, harmonic complexity and utter danceable nature made me watering at the mouth to see these two at the Fillmore Theater in the city.

For starters, the Fillmore is an awesome venue. It fits about 1,200 underneath the many chandeliers in a mostly standing room space so no spot is a bad spot. However, my lady and I got there early and snagged an excellent piece of front row real estate.

The opener was a group from Oakland called Naytronix. They were a quirky duo sporting jump suits and playing spacey, trance, yet oddly danceable electro-pop perfect for your music loving buddy. Being right in front, this means you bear the full the brunt of the speakers so if you don’t want your ears to sound like there’s a mosquito stuck in them, bring a pair of earplugs along to dampen the noise – or stuff paper towel in them like yours truly.

Then Sylvan Esso came on and absolutely nailed it. Their tunes were even cooler with all their improvised sections and additional layers that made the air wet with sound. It was especially neat to see the two of them look up and smile at each other when they did something the other hadn’t heard before. It gave the music a fresh quality. I walked away with a whole new appreciation for their music. At the end, everyone in the place was dripping with sweat because they left you with no choice but to get down.

But let’s not forget Amelia’s stellar dance moves. Damn, that girl can work it.

Devan is a dj with KSSU