Category Archives: The Spin

Summer Mixtape: New Songs Each Week!

1Soundcloud
Photo by Nadine Quitania

Summer is officially here, so what better way to celebrate than with some new tunes? We’ve compiled for your listening pleasure, a rad playlist to kick off the summer. We’ll post a Soundcloud playlist each and every week with our favorite tracks to share with you and your friends. This week’s playlist features over 35 tracks from Little Dragon, Ta-ku, IAMNOBODI, and many more. So here’s to long road trips, afternoons at the beach, barbecues, and late nights with friends. Listen here, and make sure to follow us on Soundcloud and keep an eye out for what else we have in store.

Tune In, Go Native

Written by Chantel Genest
Photos and video by Tony Santos

2It is seven thirty at night and as students make their way home and the campus slowly calms, the Creative Arts building is in the midst of an artistic collaboration that will bring the college grounds back to life. Local musicians are arriving in the radio
lounge, a crew of audio and video producers are setting up a makeshift stage, and in just
a couple of hours the hosts of Native SF will bring an all-out musical roar to KSFS
listeners.

SF State students Ryan McGeary, Phil Di Leo, and Garrett Peters co-host a program on the university’s KSFS radio station every Tuesday from nine to eleven. The trio brings an innovative show with live performance to listeners each week. With the
help of a crew and the skills these student producers have, fans get not only live radio
entertainment from the station but also video content on YouTube to revel in the local
music whenever they want.

This student-ran radio program is part of SF States Broadcast and Electronic
Communication Arts (BECA) department. The department provides real life skills and
experience to radio and television students each semester. Students get substantial
training and education in areas including TV and radio broadcast, video production,
audio production, sound art, aesthetics, multimedia, writing for media, legal issues in
media, and media management.
1“Though this building is old the resources for students here are incredible,” says
Gina Baleria, SF State online media and radio lecturer. “The full-fledge TV shows and
radio station are amazing. The perfect storm of opportunity is right here.”

The Creative Arts building houses one of Northern California’s biggest
production facilities for radio, television, and multimedia. With three color television
studios, a music-recording studio, radio station, video and audio post-production labs,
and an online lab, everything needed for students to practice and perfect their art form is readily available.

With so much going on in just one building, it seems crazy that many people on
campus do not know about BECA. Inspired and motivated students populate all of
department’s emphases and one of the biggest downfalls is a student coming to SF State
and not being aware that this program exists and missing out on a number of invaluable
classes.

“At the end of each semester I get students in my office lamenting about
graduating,” says Jeff Jacoby, the department’s radio director and advisor. “Not because
they are not happy to be graduating, but because they were not able to take all of the
BECA classes that they wanted to.”

Jacoby came to SF State and took over the KSFS radio station in 2006. While he
entered into a very well known department that was operating on all cylinders and had a
community of generally very happy students, he had some major goals he wanted to fulfill.

“I wanted to change the culture of KSFS so that the radio station became student
property,” says Jacoby. “It became their radio station—not mine, not the department’s,
and not SF State’s. That is how you get students to connect and engage with their
education, by giving them control.”

Each semester Jacoby starts his advanced KSFS radio class by informing his students that he has three sound studios and that everything they do in those studios will
be broadcasted over the web and played for an audience. He asks them one question: I
am going to hand you the keys to this facility, what are you going to do with it?

“I want them to push the envelope of what radio is and what radio can be,” says
Jacoby. “Radio is changing so dramatically and its definition needs rewriting.”

Ryan McGeary is one radio student who took Jacoby’s words to heart. As the
original creator of Native SF, McGeary wanted to expand his show and make it
something new and exciting and challenging. He was ready and willing to invest himself
and all of his time into making it something great.

“It started off as a playlist program because that was the obvious choice,
everyone was doing that,” says McGeary. “But I have been playing in the Bay Area
music scene for eight years or so and it made sense to use those connections to make my
show more interesting.”

Into his first semester producing Native SF, McGeary decided to bring in bands
during his program to play live in the studio. As fate would have it, the first band he
booked included Phil Di Leo. After that performance, Di Leo jumped on the chance to be
a part of the program and has played a major role in it ever since.

“I liked what he was doing and wanted to help out any way that I could and that
turned into what we have today,” says Di Leo.

3With two sets of connections and two ideas of what great music is, the program
has been able to see a range of different bands and genres. Along with seeking out bands
to book, McGeary has been reached out to many times when musicians hear about their
show and want to be on. There is no limitation on the talent that comes in as long as the
team believes they are local and have quality music they are more than excited to have
them.

“No one is big or small, it is all about the music and exposing new music to
people,” says McGeary. “Although, we do like to think really, really big and not limit
ourselves to any level of fame either.”

The third member of the group, Garrett Peters, is the production manager of the
entire KSFS station and co-hosts an additional radio show called Blare It! on Saturdays
from noon to two with Danny Molina. He and Di Leo are also in a band called Edward’s
Crossing together. After initially assisting McGeary as part of his managerial roles,
Peters liked the direction the show seemed to be heading and decided he wanted a take
on a permanent role with Native SF. McGeary and Di Leo were more than welcoming.

“We are a good team, we all can visualize similar images in each other’s head and
understand what we are talking about,” says Di Leo. “We are all open to new things and
are all very receptive to each others ideas.”

The team shows up hours early each Tuesday evening to set up for the broadcast.
Microphones and cords are placed all around the room, having to be checked and double-
checked and triple-checked. Cameras are set up; lighting is arranged around the lounge.

When the band shows up they brief them, do a sound check, audio and video record a
five to six song set while live on the radio, and have to clean all the work up in thirty to forty five minutes to be out of the Creative Arts building by eleven. After that, all of the separate elements from production are assembled; at least three songs for each of the live bands are edited and put up on YouTube.

“In our experience the live radio is not the most lucrative part of it,” says
McGeary. “We try to put content out in multiple platforms and have multimedia out
there, not just audio.”

The co-hosts have melded into a driven, creative, and collaborative unit and it
shows both on air and off. In between hours of setting up a play space, grueling over
perfect sound and audio checks and the never-ending editing of mass content, these
friends give off a constant circle of comradery and good-natured shit talking.

As all three members share similar backgrounds being musicians themselves, they
have an understanding of what bands want and expect and need to perform well. When
the bands come in, keeping a good vibe and staying professional with what they are
doing makes the program go smoothly.

“Native SF is a three-man production team that strives to bring unheard and enjoyable music to people in a presentable way that is both beneficial to be viewed in the
audience perspective and the bands perspective,” says Di Leo. “We are a middle-man for
bands that are trying to speak to their fans.”

As much as these guys do to run the show, they definitely give credit to the other
students who come out and help each week. There are so many things that need to be
done and just three people couldn’t possibly do it without recruiting help from outside
majors like photojournalism and cinema. A core group of about six other SF State
students show up with cameras and lights and whatever is needed.

“It has been rewarding to see those people come out of the woodworks become
the people that we rely on every week,” says McGeary.

When it comes down to it, Native SF is doing exactly what it is meant to. As their
advisor Jacoby discusses, you have to push the boundaries, give a definition to radio, and own your product while doing it.

“Phil and Garrett and Ryan, what they are doing, what Native SF is doing on
radio, is classic BECA student behavior,” says Jacoby. “That is exactly what I want
students to be doing.”

KSFS has over sixty scheduled programs playing one-hour to two-hour sessions
throughout the week between eight in the morning and eleven at night on ksfsmedia.net,
which is also run by BECA students. No shows are exactly the same, and the free form
radio structure of the station allows for a range of topics from Travis Schilling’s
Countdown to Coachella to Rocky Matthews & Brionne Bauchman’s The Rocky Hour
Show, a sex education and relationship advice talk show.

“You can have a show about books, about all hip-hop, a talk show, a sport show,
whatever you want,” says BECA senior and KSFS General Manager Michael Payton.

“Basically every hour you are on the station you are doing something you want to be
doing.”

Even with all of the freedom that BECA radio students receive in their artistic
process, the faculty guiding them is what allows for such a productive and creative space.

Jacoby does impose FCC regulations on them because it is exactly what will have
to be used after they graduate and “that is good training.” He also imposes the idea that
they have an audience and that they should serve their audience.

“I think this experience will prepare me for the radio world after I graduate
because the teachers really focus the coursework on things that will help us in the real
world,” says Sara Bailey, co-host of Dopest of the Decades on KSFS.

Some may think that radio is a dying medium, but the students and faculty in the
BECA department and on KSFS know that that is not the case. Even as terrestrial radio
declines in the shadow of Internet radio, the station here is already set up on the web and the moment online radio is available in the car, KSFS will already be there.

In truth, what radio is cannot really be said. With the use of multimedia, podcasts
and YouTube, and the enormous available outlets on the Internet to get content out, radio
is more than what it used to be. To be in the industry students have no option but to
become multifaceted and that is exactly the aim that the BECA department has for them.

“Radio is definitely morphing into something different but it is so alive and so
vibrant,” says Baleria. “Everyone is still listening, everyone is still tuning in.”

Like the hosts of Native SF, creativity and innovation is spilling out of the
Creative Arts building every day. The BECA department is highly renowned all around
the country and students leave with vast experience and opportunity to succeed. You can
find a BECA student interning or working at almost any radio station in the city and the
professor connections and achievements only put them even more ahead of the crowd.

“They show us how we can do it,” says Peters. “They give us the tools and we pick up those tools and we do something cool.”

Coachella descends on Indio once again.

IMG_9288

Written and Photographed by Anais Fuentes

Beaming down from the sky with blistering heat, sun rays cover the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, California. This isolated desert area, about a dozen miles away from Palm Springs, is normally a quiet and simple town. However, every year around the month of April, it transforms into a unique place where a crossbreed of individuals from all over the United States gather together to appreciate the beauty of music.

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is a three-day music and arts festival that draws more than eighty thousand people to Indio’s scorching desert every year for what many consider to be an unforgettable weekend of music, dancing, and partying.

It is not even mid-day on Friday, April 18th, and sweat has begun to accumulate on the crowd of people at weekend two of Coachella. The fiery desert weather is just another factor that makes this festival what it is.

This was my third year attending the festival, and as expected, it was as special as the first two. The magic of the festival is hard to put into words–it is like paradise in the desert and I will never forget the experiences I’ve had here.

IMG_9422 1This year, the festival grounds were covered with 5 massive outdoor stages and one indoor stage. Different visual arts and installation art also appeared throughout the festival, such as a giant nomadic astronaut, and a tall red robot that roamed the grounds throughout the three days.

About two hundred different musicians played at the festival, with surprise guests who were not on the line up such as Jay-Z and Usher. With so many musicians playing, and many of them playing at the same times, choosing who you want to see can be one of the more difficult and conflicting aspects of the festival.

Once the intense sun sets over the distant mountains and the desert haze begins to fill the valley, the five stages become illuminated with bright flashing lights that radiate on the passionate crowd.

Cody LaBoy,a SF State student is a Coachella veteran. Attending the festival for the fourth time this year, he talks about what Coachella means to him. “I have been to Coachella in ‘07, which was the first time they did all three days and it was a lot of fun. I also went in ’09 and ‘13. It is always nice to be out here in the desert, it’s very special.”

To the thousands of people that gather annually to celebrate in the festivities of Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Indio Valley goes from being a small,desolate town to becoming a paradise in the desert.

 

Yike or Die

Written by Matthew Reyes Photos by Ryan Leibrich
It’s raining.

Not a welcoming mist rolling over the Bay Area on a calm winter’s day, but a mean one that slaps the flesh in a nonstop syncopated cadence, creating a hollowed-out sound that sets bodies trembling.

It’s raining that hard.

The heavens just had to pour down with such fury on the only day possible for this photoshoot of a yikin group whose bodies create their own syncopated cadences on their home turf in West Oakland. The roster includes Priceless Da Roc, a Bay Area rapper and dancer; India Haynes, who goes by Ms. #GetItIndy on her YouTube channel (which has over 170,000 subscribers and 1.2 million views); in-house dancers KP and C2Saucy; 99% (a duo that consists of rappers Camoflage and JB); and resident DJ, J12.

But by the look of their faces, the weather torment doesn’t phase them. They turn the event in their favor, posting on Instagram about the photoshoot in order to augment the recognition they already have. They dance, they joke, and they go for it, all in the rain. Trying out new moves and combinations in this dance style, yikin, that started off as a YouTube sensation and skyrocketed in popularity in 2012.

Bay Area dancer Chonkie F Tutz, of the Turf Feinz crew, originated the style when he combined twerking with grinding. The dance is simple: A girl bends over and moves her body in a snake-like motion while another person, usually a man, right behind follows her hips with his.

However, the refined twists and turns of yikin, sensual and provocative, captured the public’s attention in large part due to Prince Adenola, a SF State student, who goes by the pseudonym Prince of the Yike. The videos he posted on YouTube of himself yikin made the style visible worldwide.

“No one knew who I was,” Prince recalls. But since then, hip-hop artists have reached out and hired him to tour with them as a backup dancer. “It’s crazy what a dance can do and what its impact can be. It’s basically extreme twerking,” he explains.

“It’s twerking, but evolved,” Priceless adds. Evolved, yet really an extension of the twerking seen in most hip-hop music videos; the twerking Miley Cyrus did on Robin Thicke at the VMAs; yes, that same twerking that’s banned from high school dances. That twerking.

Yikin has also been leading to a melding of the dance and rap scenes. “It’s really not too often that rappers are dancers,” Priceless says, who was primarily a rapper before the yikin movement. Featured as a contestant on BET’s 106 and Park on its Freestyle Friday, he now incorporates yikin into his music.

Since its inception in 2012, video tutorials, such as “How To Yike,” have helped the movement gain momentum among teenagers and even a seventy-year-old grandma. “Red Nose,” by Sage the Gemini, hit the fifty-second spot on the Billboard Hot 100, glamorizing the dance in its music video. No wonder others, like Prince, are now posting videos to make a name for themselves.

“Everyone knows that I dance,” Prince says. “I just want to show people I can do something different,” which is also why he released “1 Time,” a track that features SF State producer and rapper Cloud and #GetItIndy.

Yikin promotes a Jack-of-all-trades mentality. “You can’t just do one thing,” Priceless says. “You need to be a man of many hats.” He likes it that way, because it promotes hard work for future generations who want to get into the entertainment business.

“It’s a serious art form,” says Mzz. Bone, manager for The Yike Fest Tour that gathers and showcases stars of the new style. “Your knees have to be strong to get low. It’s really hard.” She compares it to salsa or tango, where enthusiasts practice at home, taking time and energy to perfect their moves. “We had the first Yike Fest in April 2013,” she continues. “Then we did another one in Oakland, and we turned away around three hundred people. Everyone wanted to party.”

From there, Mzz. Bone and Priceless knew that the demand was high. They took the Yike Fest Tour to cities, big and small. “We just came from Bend, Oregon, which is a very, very, very small town,” Priceless says. “But people still asked for us there and wanted the experience. So we found a way to make it happen.”

“You cannot not have fun at a Yike Fest,” Mzz. Bone adds. “I don’t care if there’s five people in the room, they’re going to have the time of their lives with us.”

With the surge in pop-culture popularity has come a cacophony of internet criticism of yikin’s sexual intensity and assertions that the dance objectifies women. However, according to Priceless, Prince, and other yikin enthusiasts, there’s more depth to this new dance craze then what is seen and said on the internet.

“Early Bay Area music, was mob music,” explains Priceless. “Slapping a bitch and getting money out of the bitch. But now, because yikin is getting big, you hear a lot of party music. You hear a lot of turnt up music. You hear more dance, booty-shaking music opposed to the hoe music where you pimping a hoe.”

He feels yikin has helped move Bay Area music move away from a negative place, unlike the Hyphy movement, which started out in the region as well. In September of 2013, Thizz Entertainment, which helped solidify the Hyphy movement, was associated with drug-trafficking when Michael Lott, self-proclaimed CEO of the record label, was pulled over for trying to sell heroin to an undercover agent, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. “The Hyphy movement was the biggest thing that came from The Bay,” Priceless says. “Even though it was great for the culture, the message was still negative.”

Yikin is sometimes viewed as too sensual. Youth have embraced this dance, and critics feel that’s a recipe for disaster. In October of 2013, Aliso Niguel High School, located in Orange County California, banned twerking or any other sexual dances and no longer allows it on campus or at school functions.

However, Priceless and Mzz. Bones feel like the young will do it anyway, so why not provide a safe environment for them to do so? Some people feel like its positive for the youth and distracting them from doing unlawful activities. Sage the Gemini said on “Sway in the Morning” last August, that “there is a positive movement going in the Bay Area now where the kids are dancing rather than shooting, and people just need to take notice.”

Yikin’s popularity is rising at a rocket’s pace, and it’s not stopping anytime soon. Priceless’ wants to continue growing and developing as an artist while contributing to positivity. He and Mzz. Bones are currently working on the next California Yike Fest Tour, and Prince of the Yike is coming out soon with music that allows him to embody the role of dancer, rapper, and entertainer.

As for the movement’s future, no one knows, not even Priceless and Mzz. Bones. But what they do know is that yikin will continue to celebrate life, be positive, and encourage good times. When it rains, it pours.

The Beginning and End as Far as Rap Goes*

Shako brings up one of his projects onto the computers of BAVC.
Shako brings up one of his projects onto the computers of BAVC.

Written by Katie Mullen Photos by Lorisa Salvatin

To define hip-hop as a musical genre and culture is to make sense of an oxymoron. The true essence of hip-hop resides on the continuum between intention and interpretation. Hip-hop reflects, and always will reflect, the people that surround it.

Drastic differences between what hip-hop started out as, what it is now, and where it is headed, make it even more difficult to define. To genuinely attempt to understand hip-hop culture, it is necessary to explore all three phases.

The story goes that in 1973, DJ Kool Herc and his sister threw a back-to-school party that featured the sound of hip-hop and it exploded as a culture. The sound gained popularity so artists began to take songs with percussive breaks and isolate those portions; this became a distinct hip-hop sound.

For a while, hip-hop remained beats and beats only. Then, rappers would write rhymes over them and perform at house parties or battles.

Hip-hop rapping is a way of communicating African-American oral tradition. Therefore, this form of expression was dubbed “black culture”. Hip-hop is a culture because it is more than just a musical style. It extends to breaking, emceeing, graffiti art, deejaying, beatboxing, street fashion, street language, and street knowledge. In other words, its a way of life, not just a way of making music.

In this society, calling hip-hop ‘black culture’ gets a little tricky. There are many that agree with the statement whole-heartedly and there are also many that disagree with it.

DJ and hip-hop activist, Davey D. says, “using the word ‘culture’ is a slippery slope. How expressions are used in hip-hop makes it black culture. But in this day and age, what is culture? People come in and out of culture all the time.”

Hip-hop had a political and social force propelling it forward; it was not something that was whimsically created that could feature any subject. It was an open forum that was thought- provoking and meaningful for those listening.

Adissa, the so-called bishop of hip-hop, wrote an article for daveyd.com that says,  “For anyone to even try to insinuate that hip-hop is not of a complete and unique African or African-American tradition is an insult to everyone who truly loves the art.” He goes on to clarify that all races enjoy the music today but that in the beginning, it was exclusively the black community.

SF State student Sheni Olora, better known as Shako Shake, feels differently about labeling hip-hop as black culture. “Even though hip-hop was created by black people, I don’t feel it’s just black culture. So many artists and producers of other races have contributed to the progression of the genre through different styles of flow,” says Olora.

He continues to explain, “Hip-hop is a global culture and has spread so far from its origination in America. The hip-hop culture has evolved too largely across the world for it to be bounded by one race.”

SF State student and bboy, Joey Kao puts records on the turntable in his room on Feb. 27.
SF State student and bboy, Joey Kao puts records on the turntable in his room on Feb. 27.

So what is hip-hop today, and what will hip-hop be in the future? The most crucial thing to think about is interpretation. An artist’s intention is completely separate from how an audience takes it in and what emotions are evoked within them. With a corporate centered society at hand, hip-hop has gone through a multitude of changes. It is much more restricted than it use to be. In the beginning stages of hip-hop, at its grass-root origins, the music was a shared commodity.

If you heard a beat you liked, you would write lyrics to go with it and you would perform it. In the same sense, if you liked a phrase from a rap, you were free to use it in your work with a different beat. This is what Davey D. refers to as open source. Today, this does not happen because of copyright laws and music labels trying to own and monopolize pieces of work.

Corporations have changed the original intentions of hip-hop not meaning to be owned. It is not supposed to be limited and it is not supposed to be defined. Hip-hop is universal, the coming together of the human race, no matter their racial background.

The open source way of creating hip-hop music is black culture. It is the black community that believed in the culture and lifestyle of the music banning together and being resourceful in order to create something new and worthwhile.

As hip-hop progresses, there will always be battles between creating something real and creating something that will sell. Do artists remain true to themselves or do they brand themselves to gain popularity?

The future of hip-hop is promising. The sound is changing while still remaining true to its roots. Traditional hip-hop has an easy to follow beat that governs the genre. The beat consists of a few notes repeated; creating a rhythm that becomes almost hypnotic. But in recent years, specifically the past five years, it has evolved.

Artists such as Jay Z and Kanye West have been two very key players in changing the hip-hop game. They have both explored and tinkered with the music, attempting to nail down exactly how far they can push the envelope and still have their work accepted by the hip-hop community. Kanye is known for his beats which are catchy and draw in the audience. While on the other hand, Jay Z is more of a lyrical master.

“Today, even in sampled old-school hip hop music, the use of the heavy 808 drum sound, snappy snares, and fast stop-action percussion has dramatically changed the sound of hip hop,” says Olora. “I feel in the earlier 2000’s producers like Timbaland used more natural sounds such as real pianos, live-recorded drums, sampled MPC drums, beatboxing, and analog synthesizers. With today’s hip hop producers having the capability of fully computer-based music production, I personally feel today’s music has more emphasis on its processing; the amount of technical effects used to enhance its sounds.

As hip-hop progresses, you can expect more artists to continue playing with the percussion breaks in their songs, adding layers of new technology, and to also incorporate other genres. For example, hip-hop artists have begun mixing jazz and soul sounds with their breaks.

The genre is one that will never stop evolving. It reflects the people who support it, the people that believe in it. So in reality, the music and the culture are not changing, the human race is changing and the music is victim to our unpredictability.

Hip-hop culture is not developing in a vacuum; the concept of the genre is not linear and explainable. It is an uncharted territory and a genre that is itching to be expanded and explored.

*Headline is a lyric from the rapper Nas’ song “Nas is Like.”

Inside Noise Pop 2014

Fans mingle while listening to DJs, viewing photos and drinking at the Noise Pop Opening Night Party: Punk Rock Fancy hosted at the Noise Pop headquarters, the NWBLK, located at 1999 Bryant St. Tuesday, Feb. 25.
Fans mingle while listening to DJs, viewing photos and drinking at the Noise Pop Opening Night Party: Punk Rock Fancy hosted at the Noise Pop headquarters, the NWBLK, located at 1999 Bryant St. Tuesday, Feb. 25.
Bob Mould performs a DJ set at the Noise Pop Opening Night Party: Punk Rock Fancy hosted at the Noise Pop headquarters, the NWBLK, located at 1999 Bryant St. Tuesday, Feb. 25.
Bob Mould performs a DJ set at the Noise Pop Opening Night Party: Punk Rock Fancy hosted at the Noise Pop headquarters, the NWBLK, located at 1999 Bryant St. Tuesday, Feb. 25.

Written by Nadine Quitania

Photos by Tony Santos

In the Bay Area, the Noise Pop Festival is not only for new music discoveries, (the opening bands this year were insane) but also love and respect for the ones that have been around for much longer. Organizers also show their appreciation for everyone evolved in the festival – from poster artists to their photographers, and the volunteers looked like they had it pretty sweet too.

There’s no doubt that music beats at the heart of Noise Pop, but I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing to cohesively tie the festival into a nice, pretty package.

Pre-festivities started with Courtney Barnett wrapping up her US tour playing for a sold-out show at the Rickshaw Stop with Fever the Ghost, Kins, and Rich Girls. The opening night party at the NWBLK the next day was just that – a party. People mingled and got their drink on while Bob Mould, Shepard Fairey, and Jello Biafra took turns at the DJ booth, with anime playing on the screen behind them.

The crowd and photographers at the Fillmore were getting antsy while the crew was setting up the stage and making sure all the instruments were ready to go for Lord Huron after the Superhumanoids set. Their set included tracks from their debut album Lonesome Dreams, and several others, keeping the energy high and the crowd movin’ throughout the night.

DJ Aaron Axelson filled in the time between sets, easing the restless crowd waiting for ASTR and Broods to start at Rickshaw Stop on Thursday night. For a late start, his sick mixes kept people busy.  Adam Pallin of ASTR appeared first to get the show started, with Zoe Silverman showing up after, bringing loads of energy with her badass attitude. The duo played songs from their Varsity EP and a cover of Drake’s “Hold on We’re Going Home.”

“Operate that shit!” one crowd member yelled,  when Silverman announced they would be playing their last song, which indeed turned out to be their track titled “Operate.”

Broods, the brother-sister duo from New Zealand was on the second stop of their short US tour when they played to the packed house after the ASTR set. James Mataio accompanied the pair on drums, joining them on tour.

“We love San Fran. It reminds us a little of home,” Georgia Nott says to the excited crowd.

The set was short but sweet due to their unfinished album, which is set to be released at the end of the year and is halfway completed, according to Caleb.. They played songs from their EP, a cover of Empire of the Sun’s “We are the People,” along with a solo track from Georgia.  There’s no doubt the Nott siblings are going to blow up in the future.

Art

Co-founder of San Franpsycho, Christian Routzen silk screen prints a t-shirt at the "Women Who Rock" photo gallery opening reception, hosted at San Franpsycho, located at 505 Divisadero St. Friday, Feb. 28.
Co-founder of San Franpsycho, Christian Routzen silk screen prints a t-shirt at the “Women Who Rock” photo gallery opening reception, hosted at San Franpsycho, located at 505 Divisadero St. Friday, Feb. 28.

This year’s festival was lacking in the usual amounts of art, which was missed by those attending the show. San Franpsycho, on Divisadero, was the place to be this year, before Real Estate’s gig up the street at The Independent. The store has worked with Noise Pop in the past housed the “Women Who Rock” photography show this year. Photos of singer Charity Rose Thealin, of The Head and the Heart, Thao, St.Vincent, and Alexis Krauss from Sleigh Bells were some of the works on display.

Co-owner Christian Routzen screenprinted a limited-edition print by Paige Parsons, a Noise Pop photographer, on t-shirts brought in by customers, with the print even making it onto a pillow, done by Andy Olive, the other owner of the shop. Photos on display from previous festivals ranged from $75-$325, all done by Noise Pop photographers

The setting at the NWBLK for Yours Truly’s “The Days are Short and the Nights are Yours” exhibition set the mood for the intimate affair with its co-founders, Will and Bob, sharing the history and evolution with back stories to the music videos screened and how they’ve evolved. Photographs of artists they’ve worked with, letters, and postcards papered one wall. Several video screened included Lee Fields, Willis Earl Beal, Mikal Cronin, Little Dragon, Chairlift, and an exclusive screening with Moses Sumney. Sumney, who opened for Dr. Dog at the Warfield, made a guest appearance to talk about how he heard about Yours Truly and presented a brand new video he worked on with Yours Truly. The video is now online.

Noise Pop ended as it began, but bigger – literally. With the right side of the NWBLK was opened for the closing party, that left more floor space for the DJ Dials and Machinedrum set who closed out the festival. From virtual unknowns to the festival guests, new fans can gain their early-adopter points by now saying “I saw them at Noise Pop,” when the band makes it big.

 Film Review:

Mistaken For Strangers

Despite the inclimate weather, fans weren’t deterred from flocking to the Roxie Theater for the sold-out screening of the Mistaken For Strangers documentary, directed by Tom Berninger. Described primarily as a film about the band The National, it’s more than that.

The documentary focuses on the relationship of the Berninger brothers when Tom was invited by Matt (lead singer of The National) to join them on tour as a crewmember. Featuring music and videos from the tour in Europe, the documentary shows Tom’s journey to completing the film. We witness Matt play the big brother role trying to keep Tom focused. “My brother gave me a gift with this film and I hope I was able to give him one back,” Tom said, when introducing the film.

Mistaken for Strangers will leave you in hysterics–when it’s not bringing you to tears. You don’t have to be a fan of The National to enjoy this film, which premieres in theaters and in iTunes on Mar. 28.

 

Noise Pop Preview

Noisepop

Written by Nadine Quitania
Photo courtesy of Matt Kowal-Noise Pop 2009

San Francisco’s annual Noise Pop indie music, film, and art festival is just around the corner. The week-long festival, held in over twenty venues in the Bay Area, with the heart of its operation is at The NWBLK (a store, design fabrication facility, and official Noise Pop Headquarters—NPHQ) is an event that shouldn’t be missed.

Aw man, everything’s happening at the same time! No worries, here’s a breakdown of who and what you should see:

Start off at the official opening night party on Tuesday, February 25, at The NWBLK with DJ sets by Bob Mould, Shepard Fairey, and Jello Biafra. After some fun at the opening night party, if you were one of the lucky ones who scored tickets, head over to The Fillmore and catch Lord Huron and the Superhumanoids. It’s sold out but if you really want to see the band, buy a badge and see not only them, but all the other sold out shows and events throughout the week.

On Wednesday, if you’re skipping the movie or don’t get in to watch Mistaken For Strangers at the Roxie Theater and are into surf-pop, take your pick and see the The Donkeys with Papercuts, Vetiver, and EDJ (Eric D. Johnson of the Fruit Bats) at the Chapel or San Francisco treasures the Fresh & Onlys, Cool Ghouls, Sandy’s, and Luke Sweeney at Brick & Mortar Music Hall.

So much is happening on Thursday night but we all have to make sacrifices and we’re still going to have a blast. Here’s what’s going down: first, go to the Noise Pop Poster Retrospective at Bender’s, after that head over to the NPHQ and take advantage of the Noise Pop Badge Appreciation Happy Hour.  End the night at Rickshaw Stop to see Broods and ASTR. But hey, if you don’t have a badge, or aren’t into Broods and have been waiting for some hip-hop or rap, go to Slim’s and see Shabazz Palaces, Cities Aviv, Extra Classic, and Raw-G for the goods.

Still haven’t had enough and you want to go out and party some more on Friday? Or you missed out all week and finally have time to do something? There are free shows to enjoy. The Scene Unseen III event with Mr. Carmack, Kelela, Majical Cloudz, Supreme Cuts, and Purple at 1015 Folsom is one party you definitely want in on. That’s a whole lotta goodness going down under one roof and it’s free with an RSVP via the Noise Pop website.

Tired from Friday and just want a steady night out on Saturday? Catch Real Estate, The Shilohs, and Dominant Legs at The Independent. If you want to dance, head over to the NWBLK and party with Ladytron (DJ set) and Jimmy Tamborello (The Postal Service, DNTL). Get things started early on Sunday and see Rogue Wave with Trails and Ways at the Chapel before the closing night party with Machinedrum (club set) and DJ Dials back at the NPHQ.

Get Your Art On

Noise Pop is throwin’ it back this year showcasing posters and photos from its previous years. If you’re a fan of poster art and collect, be sure to go to the Noise Pop Poster Retrospective and pick up a poster at Bender’s on Thursday with artists Lil’ Tuffy, Alan Forbes, Jason Munn, Matt Leunig, and Gregg Gordon. You’re into photography? Stop by San FranPsycho and see the “Women Who Rock” Photography Show on Friday. Don’t forget to bring a light colored shirt and get a limited edition San FranPsycho print done. On Saturday, Yours Truly is having an exhibition of photos, videos, and letters that haven’t been released before and if you’re a fan of those intimate Yours Truly videos of your favorite artists be sure to stop by the NPHQ for that.

Short list of films to see:

Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton at The NWBLK on February 26 (Q&A with Director Jeff Broadway and Stones Throw Co-founder Peanut Butter Wolf) and a second screening at Artists’ Television Access on March 2.

Mistaken for Strangers at The Roxie Theater (Q&A with Director Tom Berninger)

Cidade Cinza/Grey City at The NWBLK

Kids Like You and Me at The NWBLK (Q&A with Director Bill Cody)

And finally, you know how sometimes you get into a band and look them up only to find out they just played a show in the city? Well, here’s your chance to get ahead. We went through the lineup and put together a playlist of this year’s artists just for you. Listen, fall in love, and catch a show before some of them go off on tour and head to Austin for SXSW next month.

15 Songs To Rejuvenate Your iPod

Are you tired of the music on your iPod? We’ve all been there. Sometime we reach a point where every song we own seems boring, overplayed and uninspiring. In those moments of crisis, we rummage through Pandora or YouTube for something to reinvigorate and excite us. Such tactics have middling results. But fear not, music lovers. Here are 15 songs to rejuvenate your iPod and get you grooving again. The aim of this piece was to select tunes you may be unfamiliar with, as I feel most of the songs on here often get overlooked. So without further ado, sit back, relax, spark a J and enjoy the tracks.

Continue reading 15 Songs To Rejuvenate Your iPod

Cool Ghouls: They Are Scary Good

Cool Ghouls perform at the record release for Magic Trick at The Chapel on Valencia Street on Saturay, September 14th, 2013 (left to right Ryang Wong, Pat Thomas and Patrick McDonald). Photo by Benjamin Kamps / Xpress
Cool Ghouls perform at the record release for Magic Trick at The Chapel on Valencia Street on Saturay, September 14th, 2013 (left to right Ryang Wong, Pat Thomas and Patrick McDonald). Photo by Benjamin Kamps / Xpress

Written by Macy Williams
Photos by Benjamin Kamps

If the Rolling Stones had a baby with Motown, and the babysitter was the Beatles, Cool Ghouls would be the epitome of that offspring’s sound.

Well, according to the band’s guitarist and singer Ryan Wong, that is.

Since the Cool Ghouls landed on the San Francisco music scene in early 2011, they have become local favorites to students and city dwellers alike. The boys give new meaning to indie retro rock, adding their own twist to music reminiscent of the past.

Their musical influences aren’t the only part of the Ghouls that go way back. Band members Pat Thomas and Pat McDonald—yes, two Pats—have known each other since the fourth grade. They later met Wong while he was in his freshman year of high school.

When McDonald went on to SF State, he met the fourth member of the Cool Ghouls. “I went to visit Pat in San Francisco and that’s when I met Alex Fleshman, who was apart of this really cool group of friends who all hung out in the DSA,” says Thomas, who attended UC Santa Barbara. “These kids were all really smart but they also liked to party.”

Soon enough, the four guys were making music. Just months before coming together, McDonald had discovered a band name with a lasting impression. “I was hanging out at a friend’s apartment watching a DVD of a Parliament Funkadelic live concert and in between songs George Clinton said to the crowd, ‘How y’all cool ghouls doing?’” McDonald says. “I thought that was a really cool name and I kept it in mind even before the band started.”

Friends wanted to hear more of the band, asking when they could see upcoming shows. “It didn’t feel like we were getting popular at any particular point,” Thomas says. “It was the positive feedback that we were getting that made us feel really good about we were doing.”

Creating the songs that put the Ghouls on the map is always a collaborative effort. “We start to write songs by ourselves on our own time,” says Thomas. “When we bring them to each other, they aren’t done yet, which I like because the other guys may have other ideas. I don’t necessarily want to answer all the questions I have myself.”

The band has noticed that the more they progress, the more equally everyone puts input into the music.

Ryan Wong singing and playing guitar as Cool Ghouls perform at the record release for Magic Trick at The Chapel on Valencia Street on Saturay, September 14th, 2013. Photo by Benjamin Kamps / Xpress
Ryan Wong singing and playing guitar as Cool Ghouls perform at the record release for Magic Trick at The Chapel on Valencia Street on Saturay, September 14th, 2013. Photo by Benjamin Kamps / Xpress

“After the phase of writing the lyrics, everything else is created organically,” Wong says. Sometimes listeners say that they can’t tell the difference between songs that Thomas and Wong write. “That just shows that we are on the same page,” Thomas says.

The Ghouls are also on the same page when it comes to their proudest accomplishment as a band thus far: It was when Empty Cellar Records released the Cool Ghouls’ first self-titled album.  “Just seeing the album that we created engraved into this thing, this vinyl, it was amazing,” says Wong.

Thomas feels that the first album will leave a lasting impression. “It’s cool how permanent it is,” he says. “If I get hit by a bus, and the rest of the band gets hit by a bus, this record is still going to be here.”

The Ghouls wasted no time celebrating after their first release. “When the test pressing of the record came in, we had an awesome time barbecuing and getting drunk and basically just celebrating ourselves,” Fleshman says. “The shipment of the records was a defining moment in my life. It was proof of what I have been trying to do for the past decade, for most of my life.”

Listeners are not the only people giving the Ghouls the positive feedback they love. The likes of Nylon.com and 7×7.com, amongst many other publications, have taken notice of the group.

After the first flood of positive reviews and feedback, the Cool Ghouls are now recording their second album, expected to be released in 2014. Although they are in the midst of making their sophomore record, they promise a few surprises. “For the first album, we recorded all the tracks and instruments individually,” says Thomas. “This time around, we are all playing live together at the same time.”

When asked what their fondest memory as a band is so far, the Cool Ghouls are hesitant to answer. “This is still happening, we are still in the moment,” says McDonald. “It’s not time to reminisce yet.”

So what can listeners look forward to in the future of this supernatural phenomenon? “More shows, more albums, we are just going to keep doing what we’re doing,” says Thomas, “Its only going to get way cooler. It’s going to get more vibrant.”

For future show dates and more information check out the Cool Ghouls at coolghouls.tumblr.com.

Hump Day Music: 4 Songs To Get You Through The Week

Childish Gambino performs at Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on May 27, 2012. Photo owned by The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Childish Gambino performs at Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on May 27, 2012. Photo owned by The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Written by Macy Williams, Jake Montero, Maggie Ortin and Matthew Reyes

It’s the middle of the week, and the weekend is just past the figurative horizon. Here are some tunes the Xpress Magazine staff picked to get you through work, school and/or studying. Cheers.

Continue reading Hump Day Music: 4 Songs To Get You Through The Week