Category Archives: Shows

GP of the Week: The Cataracs

This week’s Guilty Pleasure is just in time for the long Memorial Day Weekend. While I’m usually not one to jump right in to the dance and pop music scene, there are a few diamonds in the rough who prove that you can party and have a little musicality all at the same time. You’ve probably already heard The Cataracs from one of their many top singles, (“Like a G6“, “Bass Down Low“, and “Alcohol”, shown above, to name a few). Now you can catch producer and vocalist Niles “Cyrano” Hollowell-Dhar live at the Hard Rock Hotel’s Club 207 in San Diego. The best news is, the show is free if you add your name to the guest list.

Related: More Guilty Pleasures from The Indie…

Free party on Memorial Day Weekend with a hot, up and coming pop act? I’m in!

Even more free stuff on the radar: You can download The Cataracs’ latest single “Big Dipper” feat. Luciana via SoundCloud.

Minus the Bear with the New Limb: Indie Spectacular

minus the bear the new limb ucsd price center san diego the indie sdEvery once in a while the ideal band combination comes around, and that moment has graced So Cal once again. On May 8th, The New Limb will be warming up the stage for headliners Minus the Bear, and it will be a match made in catchy-guitar-riff heaven!

Comprised of five musicians based out of California, The New Limb is kind of like an indie folk child if that child ran off and had a wonderfully adventurous affair with a rock star. With just the right amount of upbeat velocity and driving drum beats, coupled with an occasional penchant for electric riffs, this group creates one of those “sounds of the summer” — their mix tape INCONSISTENCIES boasts the kind of songs that can go on dance floors and on road trip playlists, alike. Most of the band members take turns tossing around vocals, seamlessly melding their voices in a chant one moment, or crooning over keyboards and tambourines in the next.

They’re quickly becoming a new favorite, and their sound is the perfect complement to Seattle-based Minus the Bear.

Related: Minus the Bear show review from the House of Blues

Definitely not new to the indie music scene, Minus the Bear has managed to amass a bit of a cult following, based partly on their unique sense of musicality, syncopated guitar melodies, and of course, lead singer Jake Snider’s famous affinity for serenading baby-making lyrics. But don’t let the sultry subject matter fool you — in the long haul, Minus the Bear is ready to get you on your feet and dancing, keeping the dynamics fun enough for a party, but mellow enough to simply enjoy the beautiful composition of it all.

You can check out both bands live on May 8th at the UCSD Price Center Ballroom, the biggest indoor venue on the campus. Tickets are available at the UCSD Price Center Box Office, and online at

More Events: All Time Low, PYYRAMIDS, Cold War Kids and more…

Check out this latest animation video for Minus the Bear’s song “Listing”

More Videos: Interviews and latest singles from The Material, Carolina Liar and more…


Video: The Material talks keeping rock alive on new album

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The Material’s lead singer Colleen gives it her all each time she’s on stage.

In a sea of rock bands that are constantly pushing the line closer to pop, The Material prove that they’re here to stay in the alternative game. Being an independent band hasn’t stopped these San Diego locals from performing with the likes of Jimmy Eat World and My American Heart, and as I can tell from the interview we had at their CD release show earlier this month, it’s obvious that there’s even more rocking moments in store for them. They discussed everything about their new album, the interesting process of going into the studio and almost rewriting all of their songs, and what we can expect from them later on this year.

The entire band sat down with me at Soda Bar in San Diego and after comfortably taking up a whole booth, it was easy to see that this group of musicians has little to no problems working together. Colleen D’Agostino, the searing female vocals behind the Material’s music, had just the same edge as her male band mates, holding her own next to the guys as they discussed some of their experiences in the studio.

Guitarist John started off first, being very open and bright-eyed when he discussed some of the song writing and production processes of their latest album, Everything I Want to Say.

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Guitarist Roy performing at Soda Bar
the material indie rock pop rock san diego soda bar the indie sd
The Material bassist Jordan performing at Soda Bar

“Our previous producer, [Brian Grider], was San Diego based, … and we did our first few records with him.” John was referring to the Material’s freshman and sophomore  releases, Tomorrow and full-length What We Are, respectively. “He’s super meticulous, super talented, and it was very production heavy, … adding strings, adding synths, adding electric drums.” But anyone who compares the album What We Are with the latest release can probably pick up on a braver approach to their rock sound. John continues to say, “This record [Everything I Want to Say] we did with our friend Kyle Black, … and he came in to do pre-production with us which was the first time we’d ever done that. We had all these songs we thought were done and he came in and started switching everything up.”

It was a process that attempted to throw the five musicians for a loop, but paid off in the end with what could easily be described as a well-rounded, energetic, and rock-heavy album that offers versatility in each song. The Material succeeded in avoiding the dreaded “rock riff” curse of creating a handful of songs that all sound like one another — instead, they were able to do re-writes that gave each song a unique and palatable sound to the ear.

Lead singer Colleen explains that it wasn’t necessarily an easy task. “We just spent six months perfecting this song, we’re not changing it. But ultimately we realized [producer Kyle Black] wants the song to be just as good as we do. Thinking back we’re definitely really happy we listened to him.”

The group was in good hands, since Kyle Black has previously worked with Paramore, All Time Low, and Neon Trees, with most of those groups coming back for more. I asked the band if they planned to continue on the Road to Rock, or veer into the pop sound that many artists have defaulted to in this age, and John notes once again that their powerful rock sound is here to stay.

Related: All Time Low at SOMA Sidestage May 10th -11th

“With Dave Grohl putting out the Sound City documentary, it’s super inspiring to be like, ‘let’s just go and sound like five people playing in a room together.'” John says, after the group saw the lead singer of the Foo Fighters speak at his conference at South by Southwest.

Related: There goes my hero…He’s kind of a rock god.

Colleen adds that even though she came from a pop background, it’s inspiring to have a concrete sound and direction for the group. “Every album that we’ve done until now has been kind of straddling the rock and the pop thing.” She adds that her electronic side project, With Beating Hearts, gives her the opportunity to taste the best of both musical worlds. “I’m kind of channeling the pop/electronic stuff in that direction so I can allow myself to just focus on rock in [the Material].”

The Material is more focused than ever, and they rounded up a rambunctious group of fans and followers at their Soda Bar CD release show earlier this month. The crowd eagerly head-banged along with Colleen and the band as they played songs from their new album. The energetic force of a band this size is just a heavy reminder not to underestimate the power of the indie band. As Colleen told me that night, “We’re all on board to do something big and different and amazing.” And amazing it shall be!

More Videos: Carolina Liar at the Griffin

Keep checking the Material’s main site and Facebook page for an upcoming music video for their latest release, Everything I Want to Say! The album is available now on CD and iTunes.

Video by Roman Arriola for SnowGlobe Studios. Follow Snowglobe Studios on Instagram, Vimeo, and Twitter.

The Plastic Revolution: It’s not Rock ‘n Roll without a little blood!

What do you get when you mix the heavy, shredding energy of The Plastic Revolution and a burned out guitar pick? A very excited crowd and one bloody guitarist! Check out these photos I snapped of TPR live at the Soda Bar, where they opened up for alt rockers The Material.

Click photos to launch full-screen.

Imagine Dragons, appropriate band name is appropriate

Check out these photos of Imagine Dragons when they performed at their SOLD OUT San Diego House of Blues show.

With a band name that is oddly appropriate, Imagine Dragons churned out an energy packed show that was almost tribal in nature, backed by a “magical forest” of lights and stage design, which conveniently illuminated different colors to match the mood of each song. It was like being in a Pixar movie about tree spirits who play dance music and occasionally paint with all the colors of the wind. It may be hard to imagine, pun intended, so the photos below will do a much better job of showcasing the brilliance that is Imagine Dragons.

Photos by Christian Rodas, Soul Venture Productions.

Click photos to launch full-screen.

The Indie SD Presents: Barbarian, The Lonely Wild, Warships!

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This Wednesday, TheIndie SD presents three amazing bands at my new favorite venue, The Griffin. I think you just figured out the best way to get through hump day. You’re welcome!

If you haven’t heard the dramatic indie folk tunes of The Lonely Wild, please put them on your playlist as soon as humanly possible! I’m completely in love with the entire package of this band, which at times includes just the right amount of driving, folky drum beats and crooning, eerie guitar melodies. Their song “Buried in the Murder” paints the perfect scene for the lyrics “Will we stand up and see eye to eye, once the wild has torn straight through our guards.” Deep.

Barbarian offers just what their name states: an unapologetic, unique display of musicianship that is both messy and exhilarating, connected and yet unpolished. And then there’s Warships, the group that will turn this whole thing into a dance party. With their catchy tunes and upbeat 70s inspired riffs, Warships offers music reminiscent of an extra groovy, atmospheric Two Door Cinema Club. They are sure to get a few feet moving, including mine — no judging my terrible dance skills, though!


To top off all this fun, I have a pair of tickets to give away! Head over to the Facebook event page and RSVP to be entered to win a pair! You can purchase tickets for this event on the Griffin’s website. SEE YOU THERE, INDIES!

Minus the Bear, add the House of Blues, equals one impressive show

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Minus the Bear at the House of Blues, San Diego. Photo courtesy House of Blues FB Page.

Imagine an intergalactic spaceship has crash landed in the middle of the House of Blues, and there in front of you are five out of this world dudes, emerging from the lights of their ship and the smoke of the crash, holding instruments and ready to rock out. At some point, one of them has to say “I will sing you the song of my people”, only it’s not an internet meme, it’s Minus the Bear.

That is how I can accurately describe the show that took place on Sunday. Lead singer Jake Snider barely revealed himself from the dense fog that clouded the stage before he started singing the first note of their first song. The lights behind the band created a surreal, warm halo of light that truly made me think the five musicians were some sort of rock-music spacemen. It was, for all intents and purposes, the perfect setting for the sounds of Minus the Bear.

Just as the band made their way to California, I got the chance to speak with keyboardist Alex Rose on the phone. In addition to spilling his love for partying at the Casbah, Rose spoke about the tour, the process behind their new album Infinity Overhead and the possible future of Minus the Bear on the top of the charts.

theIndie: Minus the Bear has done a great job at maturing your music while still staying true to your unique sound. How does the band approach recording when you’re in the studio?

Alex Rose: “There was this sort of idea where Omni was us getting out of our comfort zone and…taking a little detour, and Infinity Overhead was getting back to the natural progression, getting back to working with our ex-member and long time friend Matt Bayles.”

theIndie: You previously worked with Joe Chiccarelli on Omni in 2010. Any particular reason why the band went back with Matt Bayles for this album?

AR: “We’ve worked with him on many albums and are comfortable with him. We all had a great experience with Joe and we learned a lot, and Matt’s learned a lot over the past five years since Planet of Ice. I think it was helpful to have someone who understands all of our personalities, and we could just kind of hit the ground running.”

theIndie: How have you been enjoying the tour with Cursive?

AR: “When you go on tour you want to make sure you have some solid homies around! When you acquire all these friends all over the country and sometimes all over the world, it’s nice to say ‘hey, for these six or seven weeks, we’re going to be hanging out everyday’. It’s great.”

theIndie: Minus the Bear has a reputation for selling out Pomona shows. Are you excited about the reception there?

AR: “It’s always a blast to play there. In addition to doing an L.A. show, it’s always nice to play Pomona. I prefer packing out the smaller venue.”
theIndie: I’ve noticed that Minus the Bear tends to feature songs that balance between love and tragedy. Do you agree?

AR: “Definitely, especially the newer ones. I think you’re right on the newer stuff.”

theIndie: So the band must be taking lead singer Jake Snider’s lyrics into perspective when creating your songs?

AR: “You would think, but a lot of times we will do the music first. So I’m sure [Jake] takes the music into consideration when writing. On ‘Lonely Gun’ for instance, we hadn’t heard the vocals until we basically recorded the whole song, and it was interesting to see that come together last minute. The band’s been working this way for awhile, it’s kind of always been music first. It kind of happens from the music up.”

theIndie: How much of a hand did you have in creating the story and the video for your single ‘Steel and Blood’?

AR: “Steel and Blood is talking about the volatile nature of relationships, not necessarily physically but just sort of emotionally. The director, Dan Brown, kind of went with that. We had some input on the ending, there were different options, and we made the decision to leave it a little open ended.”

Minus the Bear’s official music video for ‘Steel and Blood’.

theIndie: Infinity Overhead hit #31 on the Billboard charts, and both this album and your last album performed well on the Indie charts. Would it be in your interests to dominate the major Billboard charts in the future?

AR: “We don’t have sales goals, I think we just want to reach as many people as we can. And keep making interesting music that excites us and hopefully our fans will come on the journey with us.”

Well, this fan will come along; bags packed, ready for the journey. Minus the Bear is currently on tour, making their way to a homecoming show in Seattle, Washington. For more tour dates, check out their official site.

El Ten Eleven, I’m officially mindblown

If you haven’t been to a show at the re-purposed church-turned-indie haven The Irenic in San Diego’s North Park, here’s the perfect opportunity to check it out. Instrumental duo El Ten Eleven will be there on November 17th, bringing with them their addictive, meticulously created musical masterpieces. Say that five times fast! Or don’t and instead check out this video. I’m instantly fan. Let me know what you think in the comments, or on our Facebook page!

Mercies is ‘indie beach-core forest-pop’ and we love it.

Mercies the Ballet EP The Indie SDThis is the kind of band that can jump between creating inspiring, dreamy and sometimes folky songs and composing modern instrumental pieces for a ballet. Yes, a ballet! I’m talking about indie rockers, Mercies, and when this trio of multi-instrumentalists came into town, they brought along with them their unique, vintage-inspired sounds, high energy rhythms, and a few surprise guests sprinkled along their crowd at the Ruby Room.

When I arrived at the Ruby Room, the guys were immediately happy to sit down with me at one of the dimly lit booths near the bar. Curiosity caused me to ask them first about the ballet music they created, which was commissioned by The Charlottesville Ballet in Charlottesville, Virginia. Lead singer and guitarist Josh Rheault and bassist Jordan Flower, told me that the process was obviously much different than anything else they had written. Even so, the guys included the ballet on their latest EP release, appropriately titled The Ballet.

“Initially we were going to treat it as a separate thing, and then we kind of figured we might as well release an EP and use the EP as a way to house the ballet. It worked out, timing wise.” Jordan and Josh told me, about their choice to include their instrumental pieces on the EP.  The guys have even more up their sleeves, as far as composition goes, as they also noted, “We hope to do a lot more work with other dance companies. We might be doing an indie film, scoring that.”

The indie film is currently in the works, and penned and directed by Nicole Eckenrose. The guys were fairly tight-lipped on the project, since there are so many details that still have yet to be established for the project, but just one listen to what they composed for the ballet will convince anyone that their future soundtrack endeavors will be highly successful.

The group was formed by Rheault and drummer, Sammy Dent, both of whom may have been seen in their previous band, the Deer Hunter. There’s always a “previous band stigma” that can follow some musicians around, but not for Mercies. The trio has successfully branded themselves as a must-listen kind of band, and they boast a sound that is unique, a little astral, a little old school, and a lot of interesting; a feat that I had to congratulate them on. Rheault noted that he spent nearly four years in Los Angeles, touring and writing with his previous project, before finally making his way back home to Connecticut where he eventually started Mercies.

Though New England is their home, the guys had to admit they were really looking forward to their San Diego show. Rheault recalled his last show in San Diego where he played SOMA, a venue that definitely stood out to him. He described the venue in vivid detail as he recollected that night, and added that, “People here seem to really like music and shows, and they still go to them. It’s a good place.” He’s even kept in contact with some of his San Diego friends, including local heavy hitters Pierce the Veil, who were all at the show, ready to support the band with rowdy cheers and generous applause.

The people in San Diego do love their music scene, but it’s also easy for a band like Mercies to draw a crowd on their tour when they can cater to indie lovers so well. At first glance, Mercies may seem like a hipster’s ultimate wet dream; however, as soon as one takes a listen to The Ballet EP, it’s really easy to distinguish a difference between them and some of the other bands that are attempting the same thing. The first difference is in their influences. Mercies successfully draws on some of the greatest sounds of old, making those sounds new and fresh and exciting again. “[Our] biggest influences probably all stem back 50, 60 years. You know: Beatles, Beach Boys, and Les Paul.” All of this is apparent in their EP, and in their Beach Boys cover of “In My Room”. This was quite possibly the best song for the group to cover, and one of my favorite tunes to hear that night, since it is just as good live as it is recorded.

Sometime in November, the trio plans to release a 7″ vinyl of their latest songs. “People usually get a CD and then chuck it, or lose it. With vinyl, it’s something to hold on to,” says Rheault. One thing is for certain, their mesmerizing sound transposed onto the clarity and quality of vinyl, is going to be a unique item that any music lover won’t want to miss.

Machines Learning, the rock band you oughtta know

machines learning pendragons lullaby san diego music rock san supersonicPerhaps I am biased because I have a true appreciation for rock. I mean actual rock. I mean a couple of guys or gals, their trusty instruments, and the raw energy that can only come from a string vibrating against electricity. That is the kind of rock that comes with San Diego natives, Machines Learning.

There might be a particular singer out there who in 2011, said that rock would never die. Most of us music fans already knew this, because rock doesn’t have to live on the mainstream charts in order to live. And local players like Machines Learning are proving that fact, everyday.

I really miss the feeling that comes from the perfect balance of melodic music to edgy noise, a balance that can be seen all over the band’s debut album, Pendragon’s Lullaby. Machines Learning creates the kind of music that reverberates in your chest, and yet you can still sing (or yell or scream or whatever) along with it. Songs like “Bulletproof Tiger” will become instant anthems as you chant along to the punchy guitars. It fades to just the perfect level of subdued melancholy before hitting you right back again with intense energy that was definitely meant to move you.

Not to mention, the guys are talented and seasoned instrumentalists. Comprised of Black Box Studios‘ own Mario Quintero on drums, Bradley Botbyl on bass, and Paul Balmer on guitars and vocals, the group created the perfect trio. Their precise use of rhythm is not only fun, but it is what sets them apart from any other local rockers. There’s something that is just a little bit different about their debut; just different enough to set them apart, but not so different as to put them in hipster category. They have the meaty parts of the dish, but their potatoes are the little surprises that come from the dynamics, effects, and down-to-earth lyrics that puts them just on the line of rock and something else. Which is probably why the guys dubbed themselves “post atmospheric indie space rock.” Say that five times fast.

The ‘atmospheric’ will definitely come in on tracks such as “this destroyed me”, an instrumental treat which uses just the right amount of effects before leading into the chord-heavy, structured guitar and slightly syncopated, heartbeat-driven drum patterns that are very customary to the group, and heard throughout the album.

Final verdict? Machines Learning has a sound that is sure to please, whether you’re looking for something to jump around to, or looking for something to sing along with. And if you really want to get a good opinion on the band, check out their show at The Tin Can Alehouse on Thursday. They’ll also be in L.A. before the year is up!