Tame Impala at Treasure Island Music Festival

Seeing Tame Impala live at Treasure Island Music Festival was an opportunity I’d never dreamed of experiencing. 

Led by record-producer and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker, Tame Impala is one of the world’s greatest mysteries. After being blown away by them, I wrote about the whole experience for those looking to experience it themselves.

The show:

Opening with the short interlude “Nangs” gave the perfect vibe of what the show would be like. The crowd was enticed by the fog pouring in from both sides of the stage, while the slowly changing lights immersed us all into the trip we were about to undertake. Slowly but surely, Kevin Parker’s voice began to sing “but is there something more than that?” Who knew 7 words could elicit such a feeling of love and excitement from a group of fans.

Tame Impala followed this moment with their hit single, “Let It Happen.” At this point, lasers began to shine, which seemed almost close enough to touch. The lasers bounced to the bass, following the sound at each turn as if they were magically being shot out of the band’s instruments. I felt as if it was the first time I was hearing the song even though I knew all of the words. As the song transitioned, Kevin did something we didn’t expect; He had the audience clap along, something you usually wouldn’t see at a psychedelic rock concert. He transformed us into instruments, adding percussion with our hands.

“Are you ready?” Kevin asked. And suddenly, confetti was covering the sky. The visuals at this concert were nothing short of breathtaking, seductive even.

Tame Impala’s lasers

Tame Impala proceeded to throw it back with “Sundown Syndrome,” their first official 2009 single. Being a sultry song, the band shifted the music into having a jazzier flow, while Kevin’s soft spoken vocals taught us how to sway.

The Moment” started and at this point we were all in our own little worlds. It’s such a fun and easy going song, it’s hard not to dance along. The band followed this with a snippet of  “Sestri Levante” to get us into the mood for something amazing: “Elephant.” This ultimate classic had us all on another level. If you’ve ever seen the Disney movie Dumbo, the song is literally like that one scene with the elephants where you think you’re on drugs. It’s crazy and hypnotic, and Kevin was throwing us through the ringer.

Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?” was a very hardcore song compared to the others. It was almost like we were in the studio with Kevin as he wrote out the words, unsure and scared of what the feelings he was having meant. Next, “Eventually” came on with its’ distorted and romantic chords. The visuals for this song were also out of this world. The layers of lasers were immersed into a moving cloudy sky of light, flowing with the sound of the guitar. This song is heavily drum based compared to the other songs, so it was amazing to see how they added everything together in person.

Afterwards, “Yes I’m Changing” threw everyone into a reflective mood, as the song holds feelings of love and heartache. This song is about growing and becoming a better person, but not forgetting about who you are and not letting your past hold you down. “There is another future waiting there for you” he sang, telling us all that there is so much we can do to change. This song is the perfect mix of nostalgia and yearning. If you’re going through anything right now, this is the song to listen to. It’s hopeful, and it really makes you think.

The almost romantic but somehow savage song that is “The Less I Know The Better” started playing and we were all in a daze. If you haven’t heard this song before, I would stop what you’re doing right now and look it up. That’s it, I can’t ruin it, you’ll have to listen to it for yourself.

Amongst the excitement and shock of hearing that song live, the audience was blown away by something none of us expected. Tame Impala’s first performance of “Jeremy’s Storm” since November 2012. We were truly lucky to be there and be witnessing something like this. Kevin even said himself that they didn’t even soundcheck it and they were just going to go for it. This song had the most simple visuals which really showed off the bands’ roots. 

Love/Paranoia” was like a lullaby to us all, waking us up to the dreams that the song emitted. For a song about cheating, it’s one of their most beautiful songs. It feels almost as if you’re trapped in a loop, trying to push out and escape. And somehow, Tame Impala makes it feel like you want to be there.

Alter Ego” felt like we were all going through some sort of time machine into the past. And it was almost as if we were all traveling together, on a journey to trying to go back to the beginning of the show, knowing the end of it was near. “Apocalypse Dreams” rang out like a cry as we all danced, not wanting it to ever end. One of their longer songs, it was perfect to end on.

Beginning the encore, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” played with a feeling of hope. Right as the song started, confetti filled the air and we were all moving in the air with it. I was realizing in this point that it really was the end of the show, and this was Tame Impala in their purest form. I didn’t want it to end.

Their last song was introduced with Kevin saying some parting words. “We will see you real soon, I promise,” he said, as “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” began. Everyone was holding onto his words of ‘seeing us real soon’, because he was still in front of us! During the interlude, Kevin spoke: “Alright guys. This is it! This is the last one. We will see you really soon. We love you! Thank you.” Confetti filled the sky one last time. It was the hardest goodbye.

WHAT NOW?

If you ever have the chance to see Tame Impala live, DO IT. Tame Impala has perfected this art of psychedelic, sexy, but somehow distorted way of catching your eye and making you never want to turn back. It was one of the most magical shows I have ever experienced, and for that I am so grateful, and excited, for what is to come with Tame Impala’s future. According to Kevin, we’ll be seeing them “real soon”, and I’ll be sure to hold him to that.

Photos by: Brittany Roache
Written by: Molly Atkins

KIM PETRAS at Cal Coast Credit Union Amphitheater

Just in time for Halloween, Kim Petras and Troye Sivan set hearts racing at the Cal Coast Credit Union Amphitheater

The arena was quiet awaiting the up and coming artist Kim Petras. Kim Petras recently released an album— Turn Off the Light Vol. 1. which was released October 1st. The album is themed around the spookiness of Halloween, which is such a memorable way to introduce herself to new fans. Currently Kim Petras is touring with Troye Sivan on his Bloom Tour, and opens the show for him.

Right away, Kim Petras came out onto the stage prepared to make the crowd dance right along with her. Sporting a black jacket, shorts, and sparkly tall sneakers, the artist looked equal parts serious and fun.  Accompanying her was Aaron, the designated hype man of the night who mixed and controlled the music of the performance, all while still making sure to make active connections with the audience.

Photo by Aya Nelson

A super memorable aspect of Petras’ performance was that in between songs, Kim made sure to check in with the audience and talk to them. I feel like a majority of artists stop doing things like this after getting big. At best, it oftentimes feels like a scripted part of their performance, whereas with Kim, it was personal, authentic and refreshing. Additionally, her performance was amazing. While her sound is mostly electronic based, what distinguished her was that you could actually hear her hit the long high notes, and she wasn’t fighting with the volume of the track. Her voice was strong and she was definitely not afraid to belt and show her talent to the arena. She is definitely a must see live and radiates empowerment with her upbeat music. Some standouts from the night include “Tell Me It’s A Nightmare,” “I Don’t Want It All,” and “Heart to Break.” Arguably, the best song she performed was “Can’t Do Better,” since Kim’s energy was so contagious that you couldn’t help but scream the lyrics along with her. You could even feel the lyrics resonate within her. She is a unique artist, and it will be so exciting watch how she grows as an artist.

Written by: Dominique Torres
Photos by: Aya Nelson

How To Survive Escape Psycho Circus

Attending a music festival is a rite of passage; after an amazing weekend at a Halloween themed festival, it makes sense why everyone should attend at least one music festival in their life.

On the weekend of October 26 & 27th, the National Orange Show Event Center in San Bernardino hosted another year of Insomniac’s Escape Psycho Circus! DJs from the EDM music scene such as Seven Lions, Kaskade, Martin Garrix, Galantis, KSHMR, Diplo, and more, performed over the weekend for attendees.

Escape Psycho Circus is a 2-day music festival that occurs the weekend before Halloween, which is considered to be North America’s largest Halloween Electronic Dance Music Festival & Freak-show. At this music festival, there were 4 stages that you could go to watch your favorite artist, including the Slaughterhouse, Ghoul’s Graveyard, The Chopping Block, and Cannibal’s Tea Party. There were performers spread throughout the festival grounds in order to bring a stronger ambiance of Halloween to all attendees, as well as an interactive section known as the Asylum, for those who are brave enough to enter.

Crowd picture during KSHMR’s set

Being a first timer for Escape Psycho Circus & music festivals in general, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve only had very few experiences from past concerts I’ve attended throughout the year, but never an event this huge. I’ll start off with a few tips that helped me enjoy the 2-day experience

1. Bring a Camelbak

This may seem like common sense, especially since everyone gets thirsty at any concert, but Camelbaks were a lifesaver. I love drinking water throughout any event so I feel like this was worth purchasing for myself, especially if it can hold more than 2L of water. Depending on the amount your Camelbak can hold, it means less time to refill your backpack and more time to watch your favorite sets for the night.

2. Bring as little as possible

As someone who tends to over-pack for a 2-day trip away from home, this was a tip I took advantage of when heading out to the festival. Only bring the necessities you need for that night. In my case, I only needed a portable charger, hand fan, ID, debit card (for purchases), and a small towel to soak up any sweat from my face. The reason I say this is because your small Camelbak, fanny pack, or small backpack cannot fit more so try to take as little as possible.

3. Always bring a portable charger

There is nothing like going to an event to take squad pictures or videos of your favorite set in the background, and your phone dies. It’s always best to charge your phone to 100% before you leave and always have a portable ready for when you run low on trying to meet up with your lost friends.

4. Bring a totem pole

This tip is vital. I always have experience losing my friends within the crowd of a typical concert. However, if you lose your friends at a music festival as huge as Escape Psycho Circus, you are honestly doing it wrong. It will be very difficult to find them, especially considering the NOS events center has no service once inside the venue. By creating a totem with a symbol, sign, or meme on a 5-8 ft pole, you are able to find your friends with your distinct totem. Plus, this allows for groups to be very creative in how they decorate it.

5. Go with a friend who has gone before

It is best to attend your first music festival with someone who has experienced at the same venue or Insomniac themed events. I was lucky I invited my close friend to show me around & determine a meet up spot in the case that something happens. With that said, it allows for you to explore the festival grounds with someone who can help you find the next stage to go to.

Ferris Wheel featured within festival grounds

Besides these steps, I also have some small lessons for those who are either inexperienced or concerned about any fears.

If you are HIGHLY claustrophobic or develop anxiety attacks from being in crowds, please sit/stand within a safe distance. I discovered over that weekend that I have claustrophobia from being unable to breathe in crowds with little to no room, so I had to step out for one set. Honestly, I believe the main factor could also be the anxiety one develops from their first music festival. But remain cautious.

Remain respectful to everyone attending. We’re all here for the same reason: to watch our favorite DJs and spend time with our friends. Unfortunately, I came across several attendees who were disrespectful by inciting violence & preventing others from enjoying their experience. Don’t be that person in your group who ruins everything for others because you decided to push impolitely through the crowd; most attendees would be glad to help you through. Also, if you are trying to stay with your group by holding onto each other, please do not be the reason you separate their group because you couldn’t remain patient for 1 minute.

Set a budget for purchases inside the festival. I personally love to purchase one item from the merchandise tent at every concert I attend, so I set a budget aside for food, drinks, and merchandise before entering the festival. It’s best to avoid purchasing too many alcoholic drinks (for those who are 21+) due to ridiculous pricing. Also, try not to purchase snacks that you can get back home for a much lower price, especially if you are traveling from another country, city, or state.

Honestly, live in the moment. This lesson goes out to those who are considering attending their first music festival or will be attending one soon. As much as it’s great to take videos & pictures throughout a DJs set, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. I decided to opt out from recording too often & took my group photos beforehand to avoid wasting time. Living the whole experience without having your phone attached to your hands the entire time makes it all worthwhile. Listening to my favorite DJs with my closest friends helped me enjoy my weekend away from home; it’s almost as if attending was my ESCAPE from reality (haha, sorry!).

Overall, I don’t regret attending Escape Psycho Circus because it has prepared me for future music festivals. I understand a majority of festivals can become pricey overtime or have specific artists you may be interested in, but if you are ever given the opportunity to attend one, do it! Though, if you are experiencing FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) & impulsively purchase a ticket, just be cautious of your schedule. Watch out with becoming addicted to music festivals, it’s a hard addiction to beat; I should know!

Written by: Sofia Gomez

Interview with Black Lips’ Jared Swilley

Black Lips’ Jared Swilley discusses covering the Beatles, the importance of music videos and radio for connecting with fans, and the band’s upcoming venture into country music.

Atlanta‘s Black Lips have proven to be a resilient force in the tumultuous and challenging world that is today’s music industry. Despite numerous changes to their lineup, the band is known for seemingly endless tours which established their reputation for rowdy live shows (including a 2012 tour of the Middle East). Meanwhile, production on their own records with assistance from big-name producers such as Mark Ronson and Patrick Carney from the Black Keys haven’t managed to slow down a band that’s been in the garage rock scene since 1999.  After 8 full-length studio records, a live record recorded in Tijuana, various side projects (The Almighty DefendersThe Gartrells, and Crush, to name a few), and the creation of a new genre dubbed “flower punk,” the band’s legacy and influence upon younger musicians is undeniable.

Now, almost twenty years since their inception, Black Lips seems like a completely different beast. Only two founding members remain (bassist Jared Swilley and guitarist Cole Alexander), the wildness of their live shows has been toned down considerably, and the band has now set their sights on releasing their interpretation of a country album. Despite the group’s departure from the violence and rebellion of their younger days, the punk ethos which Black Lips was founded upon still shines through in their work.

KCR’s Andrea Renney recently spoke with vocalist and bassist Jared Swilley in advance of their November 13th show at the House of Blues San Diego. The following interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

KCR: So your next tour starts next month. I was kind of surprised to hear that you were co-headlining with [Danish punk band] Iceage, since Iceage isn’t really a band that I would associate with Black Lips. How did that come about?

J: Well, we’ve known each other for a long time, and we have some mutual friends. We had met them in Denmark before. They were going out on tour around the same time as us and I like them a bunch. I kinda like going on tour with bands that are a little different; it just changes things up. We don’t really have the same sound at all, but I think they have a really great live show. Every band that we end up going on tour with is just from us hanging out and talking and saying “Oh yeah, we should tour sometime.”

KCR: I guess Kesha’s a good example of that; not someone that you would necessarily expect [Black Lips to tour with]. But I do think that there is a certain similarity there. I know Kesha has her roots in Nashville, and she is, despite being so pop, kind of rock and roll. It was something that was surprising, but at the same time, it made sense.

J: Yeah, she has really good taste in music. I was surprised when I first met her years ago; we started talking about music and I just thought she was this pop star or whatever. But she was really into Dead Moon and all these bands that I like… We’ve been on tour with bigger bands that are rock bands, and we’ve gotten heckled by their fans. Their fans didn’t really like us. But with Kesha, it’s all really young kids that are really stoked to be there. They’re just there to have a good time.

KCR: I think Black Lips are the perfect band for Kesha’s fans. Like you said, they’re just there to have a good time.

J: Yeah, they were all real sweet.

KCR: It’s been over a year since Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? came out, so I’m not gonna ask a bunch of questions about that. I feel like you’ve already discussed that record at length. But I do have one question — I wanted to know about your cover of “It Won’t Be Long” [by the Beatles] and how that kind of came about? Did Sean Lennon [music producer and John Lennon’s son] approach you guys with doing a cover, and was it that one specifically?

J: I never would have been like, “Hey, can we cover one of your dad’s songs?” but he really wanted us to do that. When we were playing it at the studio we were doing it exactly like they did it, but obviously they do it a ton better, and ours just sounded like a carbon copy of it. So we kind of started messing around with trying to make it sound like an evil version of it. I would never in a million years have thought to bring that up or try to do that, but [Sean] did a lot of the arrangement. We didn’t try to do a Beatles copy, we just did a sinister version of it. I was happy with it. And Yoko gave us the blessing to do it so that was real cool to hear her say “Yeah, you should do a Beatles song.”

KCR: Yeah, absolutely. What an honor, really.

J: Yeah, that was pretty cool. Overall, it was pretty surreal. But it was awesome.

KCR: On the topic of records: Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? came out last year, and now all I’ve really heard is about your forthcoming new country record. I haven’t heard too many details, but is that still the plan?

J: Yeah, yeah. The whole thing’s written and we’ve already done a couple songs. We did a session in Berlin this summer with King Khan [of King Khan and the Shrines, The King Khan & BBQ Show, and other projects], and we did another one at Oakley [Munson, the current drummer for Black Lips]’s house. But yeah, the whole thing is written. We’ve got tons of songs, and we’re just right in the middle of finding what label’s gonna put it out and what studio we’re gonna go to. But it’s definitely gonna be out by spring next year.

It’s not, like, serious country. It’s definitely all country influenced, but it’s kind of our take on country. It’s different, but we’ve always been into kind of twangy, southern style stuff. For this one, we’re more focusing on that. There’s not gonna be synthesizers on it or anything.

KCR: I know that some people were surprised about the whole country record thing, but I feel like on every record you’ve ever done, there’s always at least one song that’s pretty obviously influenced by country. On the last record, “Rebel Intuition” – that’s pretty country. And songs like “Workin’’’ [from 2005’s Let It Bloom] and “Drive By Buddy” [from 2014’s Underneath the Rainbow] – definitely. So to me, it seemed pretty natural. But what made you decide that now was the time to do this one?

J: I guess just because we’ve done so many garage rock records and stuff like that. We just kept talking about it, like, “Yeah, let’s do a country record.” It kind of worked out real good with having Jeff [Clarke, also of Demon’s Claws] in the band, because he’s great at writing songs like that. He’s really good at playing those kind of things. So it just felt like a natural thing for us to try out. Kind of like us doing our “mature” country record. But it’s not all that mature.

KCR: Growing up and becoming country stars.

J: It’s easy to age gracefully in country music.

KCR: Definitely. While we’re on the topic of changing sounds: you’re still in Atlanta as far as I know, but Cole and Zumi [Rosow, saxophonist] are in LA, and you said Jeff’s from Alberta, while Oakley’s in New York?

J: Yeah, he’s in the Catskills. And Jeff’s been in Germany for the past couple years, but I guess he’s kinda living at my house in Atalnta. But yeah, everyone’s scattered all over now.

KCR: Do you think that spreading out has been helpful for changing your sound and keeping things fresh? Or does it make it difficult to reconcile all those different perspectives?

J: No, it kind of didn’t change anything… I mean, Cole still has a house here so he’s back a lot to visit his family. But we never really practiced before, like at all, unless we were just about to go in the studio or had new stuff to work on. So really, I haven’t noticed that much of a change. I guess we’re usually in Atlanta before a tour, and then we leave from there. But as far as music scenes, I’m not really all that involved in the Atlanta music scene at all. I don’t go out too much when I’m not on tour. I know Cole and Zumi are pretty involved in the LA scene and stuff like that, but not me.

KCR: Just working on your own stuff?

J: Yeah, I’m mostly a homebody when I’m at home.

KCR: I think that’s pretty typical for people who are on tour as often as you guys are.

J: Yeah, going out’s like… I do that for a big part of the year. So when I’m at home, I hang out with family a lot, friends.

KCR: So, I’ve always loved your music videos that you guys put out. Most recently I loved the one for “Crystal Night;” About music videos though: obviously music television isn’t really a thing anymore. So why do you guys still continue to release videos? Do you think it’s just an artistic expression, and do you still want to keep putting out videos like that?

J: I still like watching videos. If we’re in hotel rooms and stuff, I’ll watch the music video channel. Even in Europe, where I don’t like any of the music, I like music videos. And I like making them. We always direct our own videos. I mean, there’ll be directors, but I did the treatment and everything for “Crystal Night.” And the other one we did was “Can’t Hold On,” and Cole did that treatment. It’s just fun. I enjoy the video aspect thing. It’s harder and harder to get money for that stuff nowadays, because there is no MTV. But we’ve been lucky with Vice [Records], because they have resources to let us do that. And sometimes, like, I think we had Ray-Ban help fund a video for us. But yeah, if we can find the money for it, it’s just a neat little tool to have.

KCR: And I think fans appreciate it too. It’s interesting to see what the artist interprets as the visual side of their music.

J: Yeah, me too.

KCR: I know I mentioned this earlier, but I’m calling from KCR College Radio. It’s the college radio station for San Diego State University, and I think that it’s such a cool thing that we have. So I just wanted to know – obviously music streaming services have kind of become the primary way for consuming music, especially for young people. Do you think that radio is still an important resource for getting your music out to a new audience, even your current audience, and reaching new fans?

J: Yeah, I think it’s still really important and a good thing. In Atlanta we only have half of a college station now – it only becomes music after 7 or 8 now. During the day NPR bought it. And we lost our cool AM station, so that kinda sucks. But there’s still KEXP and KCRW and WFMU. I mean, I still listen [to radio]. I don’t stream music, but I guess I could figure it out. I’ve just never done it. I just pretty much listen to WFMU out of New Jersey because they have everything up on their site. I mean, it’s important for me, but I’m 35 years old, so obviously the kids are listening to something else. College radio was a big thing, especially growing up. I never went to college, but me and Cole had our own radio show, and it’s actually still going on.

KCR: Really?

J: Yeah. We started it fifteen or sixteen years ago, and there’s still students doing it with our same format. So that was always awesome for me – I got my own radio show and I didn’t even go to the school. I was really proud of that. So I think that’s still real important and I think that it makes a big difference. Because people are loyal to their local stations, which is now usually almost always college stations.

KCR: I just joined it this semester, in September. And it’s actually kind of crazy how well-regarded it is. In the major newspaper here, it won best station in San Diego, even against the commercial stations. Like, this college radio station did. So it’s pretty clear that people really do appreciate college stations and even radio in general.

J: Yeah, I love the format. And I think it’s good for record sales and promotion and things like that.

KCR: I did an interview last week with Zac [Carper] from FIDLAR, and I asked him the same question. We were talking about how the cool thing about radio is the curated aspect of it. How you don’t really get that with streaming, or with just finding music on your own.

J: Yeah, you don’t get that at all with streaming, really. I guess you can do the algorithm thing.

KCR: Yeah, but it’s not the same. You know, you can look ahead and see what all the songs are. It loses that aspect of wondering what the next song is gonna be.

J: Yeah. I got into so much music when I was a kid that really turned me on. When I was in middle school and high school, there was this show called “In the Aquarian Age” on 88.5, which is the Georgia State station. At that’s how I got into so much cool, weird, old ‘60s music, through that.

KCR: I think radio’s good for stuff like that, a genre or a time period that you’ve never listened to before. It’s hard to just jump into that. So radio’s great for guiding you and guiding your taste.

J: Yeah, you definitely don’t get that on streaming.

Catch the Black Lips at the House of Blues on November 13th on their co-headlining tour with Iceage, supported by Brooklyn’s Surfbort.

Written by: Andrea Renney
Photo courtesy of: Grimy Goods