So the Oscars are this weekend. That’s happening. But there’s also a slew of shows that you cannot miss, all with some musical acts that I’m sure even the Academy would find pleasing. So without further ado, we present to you the top shows that YOU need to see this week.
If you’re single this year, don’t fret. Not everything is about chocolates, champagne and cheesy cards. There are a slew of amazing shows happening in San Diego, and you need to check them out. Who knows, maybe the person of your dreams will be waiting in the crowd? (Too cheesy? Yeah, let’s just focus on the music.) Continue reading Forget Valentine’s Day: Here’s what you should do this week→
On tour and coming to So Cal is modern motown act Caught a Ghost, and after speaking with frontman Jesse Nolan, I’ve discovered that this act is multifaceted, deep, not afraid to cast Nolan’s great-aunt in their music video, and most importantly, sure to be a meaningful show that you won’t want to miss.
There are a lot of musicians out there who claim to “bring things back” — Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, Daft Punk claimed to be bringing back soul, and Bruno Mars is bringing back…Soul Trains. But rarely, an artist comes along that isn’t just copying an earlier style or mimicking an era, but also making that style into something fresh, exciting and new. Enter Caught a Ghost, “a modern take on blue eyed soul” voiced by Nolan and supported by a slew of talented onstage musicians, all of whom have seamlessly created a project worth listening to. Nolan admits that he feels he’s a “conduit” of his influences, embodying the spirits of the past and channeling them into his own music, while hoping that this channel continues on to the listeners’ ears. (And from this listener’s ears, I have to agree.)
But there is more to be said about his musical influences than a simple appreciation of the throwback. Nolan self-describes his music as being influenced by “bass heavy” tunes with a “groove feel”, and yet he can still find the appreciation in artists such as Nirvana, Dr. Dre and Jimi Hendrix.
If you could mesh all of those artists together, the result might be a crazy musical Frankenstein experiment; however, in Caught a Ghost’s case, it’s a trifecta of sensational sounds. Listeners can either linger on the smooth tone of Nolan’s voice, the upbeat ‘dancability’ of the tracks, or take it all in and relish in the feel good vibes and catchy lyrics.
All of these traits are clear in the single “Sleeping at Night”, a soulful track that urges the listener to dive deeper into the meaning and themes behind the song. (The phrase “caught a ghost sleeping at night lyrics” is a popular Google search term, and I now know why.) The moody and quick-paced intro of the song sets up Nolan’s horn-infused chorus, as he croons the lines: “I hope you make it alright! You can sell dust and steal the daylight for all that I care, just as long as you’re sleeping at night.” Though I don’t believe a literal interpretation is needed here: the lyrics as a whole seem to allude to the pandering nature of society, all set to music you can move to.
The song is a clever work of R&B influenced art, and the music video follows suit. Nolan lets me in on a little background, adding that the original video was a stop-motion animation created via iPhone. After extremely positive fan review, fast forward to the full length version, which features real people who Nolan has interacted with in his life. (One is his great-aunt — which I have to admit, makes her one of the coolest great-aunts. Ever.)
The astute and witty details of Caught a Ghost’s music doesn’t stop with this single. Dive into the full EP, Nightworks for the same caliber of music, song after song after song. Nolan adds that the EP is meant to be an appetizer for the full-length album, which should hopefully be ready for release in early 2014.
We’re waiting. Not very patiently, might I add. But the full length is sure to be worth the wait. In the meantime, Nolan is notorious on the web for singing just as well live as he does on tape, so check out Caught a Ghost during any of their fall tour dates on the west coast. San Diegans can see them at the Griffin on Sept 30th.
This week is going to be a very, very busy experience for San Diego locals and tourists alike. One of the best parts of Comic Con week happens outside of the convention center doors, as music venues, bars, and restaurants open their doors to all sorts of characters and fans for music and art events. Many can argue that Comic Con has become warped from what it once started as; however, on the plus side, the convention always sparks a fiery interest in the arts among San Diego’s culturally conscious scenes.
Below are a few events taking place tonight and later this week. So if your week was looking a little boring…consider these events your remedy against monotony. Enjoy!
Rips Entertainment is featuring Filter, a showcase of art and tunes from some of San Diego’s most intriguing acts this Thursday, and best of all, the event is free in your Comic Con attire or with your Comic Con badge. From the vast musical tastes of Southern Cali DJ act Burn One, to the atmospheric pulse behind AbJo’s style (seriously check out The Art of Refixing below, and tell me it doesn’t make your heart beat a little faster.) — not to mention the art that FILTER events are known for, this is going to be one of the best ways to spend a Thursday night. The entire event will be covered and streamed live on Breakbread.tv (as well as The Griffin event below!) if you can’t be there in person. Oh yeah, I did mention it was free, right?
Comic-Con isn’t the only place crawling with celebrities this week. The Griffin is opening its doors to convention goers with a set list featuring A-list indie acts. SD favorite Hills Like Elephants always brings the indie party and never disappoints. Actors Sarah Roemer, Ryan Donowho, and Tim Jo paired up with bassist Joe, drummer Chad, and Steve Saba to round out Animals of Kin, an indie folk band that calls The Mamas and Papas a musical influence. (And rightly so!) There’s plenty of other amazing acts on this bill — Goodnight Ravenswood & Seawall — plus a little art to make sure you’re culturally well-rounded. My mouth is watering at the indie goodness!
It’s an 80s dance party this Friday Downtown, as Hotline Miami hosts its own little video game-themed mini Con, complete with DJ acts and music inspired by and from the indie game of the same title. However this event is not for kids, since it’s a 21+ drinking party with a headlining DJ set by Australia’s Miami Horror. Dancing shoes? Check. Video games? Check. Amazing DJs? Check. Sounds like a Comic Con after party heaven.
Let us know if you’re attending any of these events! Get out there and shake your Con Cons, amigos.
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!
Music and art have always been combined, and most people do it right. (read: local Beats and Brushes event hosted by RiPs Entertainment.) Psychedelic performance art rockers The Red Paintings do it with a flair that will keep your ears peeled and your eyes glued to the stage. Trust me when I say, you have never seen or heard anything like this.
That’s why our Guilty Pleasure of the Week segment is coming back with a bang in the form of this Australian, genre-bending, orchestral rock group. Fascination pretty much surrounds this music project, from the moment you listen to the music, to the story behind how lead singer and musical mastermind Trash McSweeney began his musical journey. One near-fatal seizure and many inspiring moments later, and The Red Paintings was born.
Gimmicky bands are sometimes a hit or a miss, but with this group the gimmick is simply artful, colorful, mesmerizing and sometimes downright acid-trip inducing entertainment. Woven around all of that creativity is a voice that isn’t quite perfect but manages to fit into the theme of the music completely. Add in the sweet yet ominous sounds of string instruments, which are usually included in their live ensemble as well, and The Red Paintings succeed in creating its own little Tim Burton-esque world.
The performance is theatrical, and sometimes over-obsessed with Alice in Wonderland, but the music is more than just a soundtrack to a play. McSweeney croons one moment and sears through his lyrics the next, as the dynamics of each song rise and fall like a tumultuous ocean. Still, beautiful pseudo-ballads such as “We Belong in the Sea” are just as alluring and can stand alone without the stage antics.
In essence, the entire package of The Red Paintings is perfect, complete with a big red bow on top.
This is the kind of music experience that is extremely fun to watch live, especially since the group adds in a real-time art collaboration featuring local artists at each of their tour destinations, and even occasionally including human canvasses.
Alright, now are you convinced? If you are, head over to the Griffin on Valentine’s Day (February 14th, in case you forgot), for The Red Paintings, Stone Horse, The Falling Doves and others.
I got the chance to sit down with Chad Wolf of Carolina Liar, and I don’t think it’s possible for this guy to have a boring tour story. Chad, along with band mates Rickard and Johan, have seen it all: from hoopties to out of control Midwest parties, the famous Hollywood Bowl, and of course, an amazing city called San Diego.
You know an interview is getting off on the right foot when someone starts quoting Anchorman, and that’s exactly what happened when I asked Chad the very first question. He had nothing but glowing reviews for San Diego and the Griffin (Oh Mr. Wolf, flattery will get you everywhere and SD loves her compliments), and he reminisced about some of the most exciting moments that the band has had in other cities. Another notable tour stop on his list? Apparently, the Midwest. Chad noted that despite seeming like it should be a calm atmosphere, going to Kansas City is like “going to Vegas in the middle of the Midwest.” The lead singer told a hilarious story about one bar in particular:
“People just get crazy! The first time we played in Kansas City, we ended up in a bar … and it just turned into this full on free for all of just people and just madness. I remember reaching down to tap the waitress who was helping us out that night and she just grabs my face and starts making out with me. People were spraying water all over, it was turning into a wet t-shirt contest … and we were all just kind of looking at each other like ‘What is going on in this place?’ And Kansas from that point on has always been absolutely just crazy. One of our favorite places to play of course.”
The guys of Carolina Liar have even more miles on their agenda this year, including opening for Kelly Clarkson and the Fray. The band had just played at the Hollywood Bowl the previous night, and lead singer Chad was still glowing from the iconic experience. “The energy when you walk out [on stage], you just get the goosebumps,” he said about the famous landmark, which has welcomed artists like the Beatles and Aretha Franklin. “As you’re walking closer and closer to the front of the stage, you just feel the chills from the whole thing. It was amazing.”
The band is having a lot of fun playing songs from their latest album, Wild Blessed Freedom, (and of course sprinkling in tunes from their first album), and talking with Chad made me realize how much of an uphill battle it’s been for the group. Knowing the hard work and dedication that goes behind music can really add an appreciation to it, and that’s no exception for Carolina Liar. The group split amicably with Atlantic Records and decided to release their second album on their own label, and Chad mentioned it’s been a learning experience. “The difference between working for a major [label] and then working for yourself is the amount of time…things take.” But the group is pulling through it, and Chad stated that almost a year later, “now, this record is starting to get it’s own little motor behind it. It’s a wild ride.”
The album, which definitely touches on everything from power pop ballads to punchy, lyrical rhythms, has a mainstream sound that temporarily painted a very One Tree Hill-ish atmosphere inside the Griffin, which is actually a lot cooler than it sounds on paper. And each song, as the lead singer stated, has “it’s own little story.” Most of the songs seem to be a product of pure inspiration, teamwork, and….Thin Lizzy. “[Rick] and I were listening to Thin Lizzy like crazy at the time. No matter when or where we were at, it was all Thin Lizzy, all day long.” Take all of that into consideration, and you get this well-oiled ready to rock machine with songs that are both honest and ready for the radio.
Have you ever been to a show by your favorite band in the perfect, intimate setting that made it possible to not only enjoy the show, but also feel like that band is singing right to you? Well, if you haven’t, get out to the Griffin while the summer’s hot (or, while the summer’s as sticky as a roll of duct tape). The Griffin is getting a shiny new summer series, including a stop by pop rockers Carolina Liar on July 31st. And this is quite possibly the perfect setting for them.
Carolina Liar has been making serious waves while they (successfully) battle the sophomore slump with their second album Wild Blessed Freedom, and when you’re touring with heavy hitters like One Republic, Kelly Clarkson, and fellow up-and-comers We the Kings, you’re bound to make some important friends along the way. They’ve been compared to about a million and one solid acts, from the Killers to U2, but this group isn’t trying to fit into anyone else’s shoes.
They’re holding their own, delicately navigating the atmosphere of pop, while not being afraid to throw an out-of-the-box lyric your way. Lead singer Chad Wolf is brave enough to test the limits of his vocal prowess, and in songs like “Beautiful People”, he dares to sing the lyrics “‘Cause it’s beautiful people like you/Who get whatever they want/And it’s beautiful people like you/Who suck the life right outta my heart.”
Add in the catchy melodrama of tracks like “I Don’t Think So”, and the album starts to sound like a fresh approach on pop.
Check out the brand new video for their single “Drown” and let me know what you think.
Sure, there are a couple cookie cutter pop medleys that fall into a familiar pattern (namely, “King of Broken Hearts” and “Daddy’s Little Girl”), but overall, Carolina Liar isn’t just content with the ordinary. And a band that is willing to push its songwriting limits is pretty much guaranteed to impress you live.
Not to mention, venues like the Griffin make shows by bands like Carolina Liar an experience. There’s just something missing from the large arenas; a personal touch that really gives you the chance to enjoy the music, no matter what you listen to. So if you’re interested in being a part of that kind of experience, check out Carolina Liar at the Griffin on July 31st.
I could riddle this post with a lot of puns and innuendos about special packages from Invisible Children (I think that’s illegal in … well, all 50 states) or unveiling the naked truth about this organization. But instead, I’m going to ask you to answer a question: What do you really know about Kony 2012?
I’ll be honest, here’s what I know:
I know there’s someone snatching children up in Africa, and it isn’t Peter Pan or Angelina Jolie. I know a lot of people don’t understand the use of film as propaganda, (which is ironic, considering how many products we buy or point of views we change from just watching a film.) I know someone may have had an incident in Pacific Beach…yeah.
I’m not an expert on Invisible Children and what they do, and I’m sure neither are you. Unless you’re a huge philanthropist, then you kind of rock! For the rest of us, however, there’s still room to grow and to give, which means shedding light on these important issues instead of, ahem, shedding clothes. (Okay I promise, that’s the last one!)
One of the best feelings that music can bring is a sense of unity on a subject or topic. They don’t call it a universal language for nothing. With that in mind, when production company Ladies in Boots announced a charity show on April 24th to help bring awareness to Invisible Children, they knew that the event would give the perfect platform to help answer some of those questions that you have. Coupling the folky yet soulful music of Katie Leigh & the Infantry, The Paragraphs and Trouble in the Wind with a full presentation of Kony 2012: Part II should make the night both fun and informational.
But if you’re really not convinced yet, why not hear about the whole situation from someone who has actually been there? Guest speaker Papito has lived through the conflict, and will give an account that is sure to answer any other questions that might be lingering in your mind about what is happening in Uganda.
So, do you want to answer the question I posed earlier? What do you know about Kony 2012? Invisible Children? What kind of finances does Invisible Children acquire? What is really going on in Uganda?
And most importantly, how can you help?
Why not start by checking out a really great show full of really talented musicians on April 24th at the Griffin San Diego. More information can be found on the Facebook page for the event. At the very least, you’ll have a good time. But hopefully, in addition to this, you’ll learn more about Invisible Children and finally answer any of those questions you had about this issue.
I know I have a lot of questions that I want answered. How about you? If there’s anything that you’ve really wanted to ask, now is the time! Let us know your questions, or post them on the Facebook event wall!