PHOTOS: Avenged Sevenfold at the Hollywood Palladium, August 26, 2013

FYF Fest 2013: Day Two—My Bloody Valentine, MGMT and Washed Out Close Out the Best Weekend Of Summer

Solange (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)


*Click here to see more from FYF 2013: Interviews, galleries, and more

Festival creators coined “The Best Weekend Of Summer,” as the FYF Fest catch phrase this year, and for a lot of folks it was a true statement. Sunday began a little sluggish—people were worn out from going hard on Saturday. The beer garden lines were a little shorter, the seated areas were more occupied, and the sun beat down even more than the previous day. These festival goers were hot (and maybe a little hungover). The fashionistas still roamed, but they were not as prevalent as Day One. More women chose Chucks over strappy sandals in hopes their feet would survive the day. And they did. We all did.

Mac DeMarco started the day right with his brand of casual, laid-back rock ‘n’ roll. He played a crowd favorite, “The Stars Keep Calling My Name,” and featured a belch in the microphone, which woke up anyone who may have still been groggy from Saturday. While fans woke up slowly to DeMarco, the Orwells welcomed early festival goers like a cold shower. This was equal parts due to their loud, rowdy punk-rock roots and vocalist Mario Cuomo’s mesmerizing stage presence—it was hard not to stare. He was wearing a Derrick Rose jersey, tube socks and shoes. That was it.

All riled up from the Illinois-based raunchy rockers, attendees trekked to the Carrie Stage to catch the last part of Guards’ set. The band told the crowd it was prepping them for My Bloody Valentine and played its last few songs a bit louder than usual. The members urged their fans to dance, but they were all still lethargic from the sun. It seemed as though most people retreated to the adjacent beer garden. Not for drinks, per se, but more for a refuge from the sun. Those who couldn’t find seats at the tables sheltered by the beer garden tent didn’t hesitate to plop down on the wood-chipped ground, giving anything to rest their feet and hide from the sun.

Kurt Vile (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

Most stayed in their positions as Guards finished and Kurt Vile set up. He played his lackadaisical twangy rock with a full band to create the ideal atmosphere for a midday festival appearance. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, Vile hid his eyes with sunglasses to match the style of his fans. He switched between acoustic and electric guitar, but each was equally hazy and mellow.

No Age (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

Around the same time, No Age pumped up those who needed energy on the Charlotte Stage. The Los Angeles natives have played FYF more than any other band, with this being their seventh performance at the festival. And even though the band only consists of two members, their sound was bigger than many other bands playing over the weekend. They began with some songs off their latest release, An Object, but the crowd didn’t really get into it until they played “Teen Creeps,” and “Fever Dreaming” off earlier releases. A small mosh pit formed and people jumped around to the noise rockers’ bellowing sounds.

Yo La Tengo (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

Those that chose to stay parked at the main stage were able to keep their mellow buzz going with Yo La Tengo. The indie rock pioneers played relaxed but tight, varying their set with both old and new tracks, which is easy to do for a band that’s released 13 studio albums between the years 1986 and 2013.

As the sun began to set, it was as if the entire festival got its second wind. Dance-inducing bands were scheduled from dusk on, and without the blazing sun bashing bodies with its rays people could groove freely. !!! (Chk Chk Chk) summoned this transition with its riled up, disco-tinged funk rock. Singer Nic Offer wore his signature Some Girls short shorts, but not even Mick Jagger could compete with his dance moves. He jumped into the crowd to make sure everyone was dancing, and as the band played “Careful” behind him, when he was not belting out lyrics he was running the lengths of the stage, showing off his impressive gyrations to all sides of the crowd.

Washed Out (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

!!! was in its element in a festival setting, and so was Washed Out. The man behind the band, Ernest Greene, recorded his latest album Paracosm with live instruments rather than just samples, and as a result a full, live band joined him onstage. Though he admitted this was only the second performance they all played together, the tight, full sound could have fooled anyone. They began with the album’s first single, “It All Feels Right,” before delving into older material. The stage glittered with white Christmas lights winding up synths and climbing up the back of the stage, and Greene seemed in the zone as he engaged the crowd both in between and during songs. “This song is called ‘Get Up,’” he told the audience, “so get the fuck up!” As if programmed, the crowd responded by dancing even harder.

MGMT (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

One would think that Washed Out would just be a precursor to MGMT, but oddly this was not the case. Though the psychedelic dance duo got the crowd moving with favorites off their debut album Oracular Spectacular (“Time To Pretend,” “Weekend Wars,” and “Kids,”) they opted to preview a number of tracks off their upcoming self-titled album. And though new songs are always fun to hear, these were heavy and dark – not conducive to a festival setting. However, during their new single, “Your Life Is A Lie,” Henry Winkler joined them onstage to play a giant cowbell. Can’t really beat that.

 

My Bloody Valentine (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

As people left MGMT, more flocked to grab a good spot for My Bloody Valentine, which chose FYF Fest as its only US festival appearance. Known for putting on the loudest shows on the planet (the band claims it’s because they want their fans to “feel” the music), warnings on the massive stage screens advised fans to protect their ears by wearing ear plugs, and even gave out free pairs near the park’s entrance. As the stage was being set up, a looming tower of amps stacked higher and higher, and when the band did emerge and strike its first note, it was true: you could feel the music, even at a large outdoor venue. MBV began its set with tracks off its acclaimed 1991 album, Loveless and alternated with songs from its 2013 release, MBV. A beautiful water color-influenced backdrop framed the band and shifted from blues to reds with the music, making the experience that much more hypnotic. But the sound system just couldn’t handle it and during “Only Shallow,” the music cut out. After a five minute break, the band came back out only to fry the system again. Eventually the technical difficulties were repaired, and though they tweaked the flow of the set, fans left the park ears buzzing and mouths grinning.

*Click here to see more from FYF 2013: Interviews, galleries, and more

— Katrina Nattress

 

 

Q&A: Moderat’s Gernot Bronsert—”It’s Not Easy to Find a Way to Work Between Three Producers. It’s Like Having Three Chefs Cooking a Steak”

Moderat, the hybrid group—featuring Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary of Modeselektor with Sascha Ring of Apparat—is back, five years after their first stellar full-length. A lot has changed since then. “We are not rookies anymore,” says Bronsert. Indeed, since the release of the self-titled debut album, the Modeselektor side released their own record and a documentary. Bronsert and Szary are also running two record labels now, Monkeytown and 50 Weapons. Ring has released two albums as Apparat.

Before, Moderat worked with no deadline. This time around, they spent six months crafting the album. “We didn’t try to make a Modeselektor/Apparat record,” says Bronsert. “I think we made music together as three friends, like, Szary, Sascha and Gernot are going into the studio together to try and make some music.”

The trio of German producers released II on August 6 through Mute Records. Now they’re ready to head out to North American for a small string of live dates that will involve a new, audiovisual collaboration with longtime pals Pfadfinderei. Moderat will hit up Electric Zoo on August 31.

We recently caught up with Bronsert to ask about the new album and tour.

What was the actual writing and recording process like for you?
It’s difficult to explain. All of us, we are not the typical musicians, like classic musicians who have a melody in mind and play it on an acoustic guitar and go into the studio afterwards and try to record it and find a C part and hook line or whatever. We are all three producers and we have the same skills, so we record a lot of music by ourselves. We don’t need a band on tour. When Sascha goes on tour, he’s using the band only for the live shows, but in the studio, he’s doing most of the stuff himself and the same with us as Modeselektor.

It’s not easy to find a way to work between three producers. It’s like having three chefs cooking a steak. That means a lot of discussions and a lot of talk work. We talked a lot. We needed to find our own language between us. We had six months for the record. The first three months, we spent a lot finding a certain language, or a certain level, between us. Then we took the month off. After the holiday, the vacation, we went back to the studio and made some music.


Do you have defined roles in the project?

I’m the operator. I think I’m pretty fast on the machines and on the computer. I was mostly in charge of beats, melodies, hooklines and sounds. Sascha, also, but I was the beats part. I’m pretty good at arranging songs. Sascha was singing a lot and was writing the melodies and the songs and the lyrics. Szary is pretty much into sound design and mix design, the work no one wants to do in the studio, cueing and making it sound good.


In the past five years, we’ve had a big explosion of dance and electronic music in the US with a lot of festivals. Have you had the chance to really check out the electronic and dance music festivals before this?

We don’t follow streams. We try to always swim against the stream. We were always an audiovisual band, a long time before all this LED mayhem started. I think we are playing very different music compared to the, let’s call it EDM, which is big in the US now.

The difference is that we have a background that the young kids and young producers in the US right now don’t have about electronic music. We grew up with electronic music, all of us. We are all from the East Side and we didn’t grow up with Nirvana and all these bands. We grew up with, let’s call it techno. I think that’s the main difference compared to the American new scene.

I think it’s important that music like what we do, is going to the US and shows the audience that not everything is about drops or this special—let’s call it rave—moment and energy. I think electronic music has something really magical and this magic is the deepness in the music. You have the chance with electronic music to bring people to very special circumstances. It’s like a spirit you have. I think I danced for the first time in my life for more than eight hours when I was 14 to techno music. This experience totally changed my DNA.

I know that we will be one of the bands on this Electric Zoo festival that is totally different from the rest.


Could you tell me what’s going on with the new live performance?

It’s an audiovisual show, again. We’re trying to find a way to work with our LED wall. It’s a pretty complicated stage set-up. We have six projectors and five screens. It gives you kind of a 3D moment, but not really. It’s hard to explain.

We always work with this audiovisual crew from Berlin called Pfadfinderei. They also do all the artwork for our labels and for Modeselektor and Moderat. They are mainly focused on live visuals. This is totally their cup of tea. We’ve worked with them for more than 10 years. They’re kind of part of the band. They’re the visual side of Moderat. They do all the visuals and all the content. They try to transform our music into pictures and that’s what they do while playing live. It’s a freestyle show, so we play the songs freestyle and they do the visuals freestyle. It’s like playing as an audiovisual band. They’re playing the visuals like an instrument.


How do the collaborations work?

We don’t really have a concept. I think our concept, if you want to call it a concept, is that we hang out a lot. They came to our studio while we were producing the record from time to time to hang out and listen to the unfinished tracks. We talked about a lot of things like music and pictures and technique and technologies and shit like this. They transform our music into pictures, so there’s not really a concept behind it. It’s their concept, their language.

We’ve never worked with anyone else. We’re good friends and we grew up together. With some of them, we were roommates in the ’90s, so we’re old friends. Szary and me, Modeselektor, have known each other since primary school. A few of the guys we work with now, we know them from the same time. They’re all our friends—we’re riding the same wave for a long time.

 


The video for “Bad Kingdom” is great. Was there a story behind the video?

As I told you, we don’t want to influence the work of the visual side too much. That means exactly that we absolutely didn’t have a clue of what they were doing when they started working on the video. The only thing they wanted to do was that we didn’t want to make a fancy, eye-catching Internet movie that has a very short life. We wanted to make a clip that also has a meaning, maybe a more timeless meaning, a little political. We wanted to be critics. This is totally missing in electronic music. I think we have the chance with Moderat to combine criticism and the real reality… we just wanted to do some deep shit.

There’s a story behind the clip, but I think the story has a lot of faces. It transports more of a feeling and a lot of things that are right and not right. It shows, maybe, real life. This is important for us, that there’s a real life behind this electronic music boom. This is something that we’ve always wanted to do.

— Liz Ohanesian

FYF Fest 2013: Day One—The Breeders and FLAG Rock (And Death Grips Actually Show Up)

Deerhunter (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

*Click here to see more from FYF 2013: Interviews, galleries, and more

Ten years ago, 18-year-old Sean Carlson decided to throw a punk rock festival in Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood. He called it Fuck Yeah Fest and never even thought about the event running a second year. But this weekend, it was clear that his baby has grown up—thanks in part to a partnership with Coachella creators Goldenvoice in 2011—and FYF Fest has undoubtedly become the premier LA music festival.

More than 25,000 attendees trekked to Chinatown’s LA State Historic Park on Saturday for a weekend full of beer drinking, people watching, and of course, damn good music. This year’s line-up may be the most impressive to date, and with the bill slimmed down to 50 (compared to last year’s near 80), it boasts not only heavy hitting (inter)national touring acts, but the best up-and-comers as well.

METZ (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

As the sun shined down on the urban park, METZ kicked off the weekend with its spunky garage punk. From the beginning of their set, the Canadian rockers went balls to the wall and urged their fans to do the same. Within minutes, a mosh pit started and it was clear the early arrivals were into it. They played “Get Off” from their 2012 self-titled debut and urged the crowd to dance in the “blazin’ sunshine.” They, of course, obliged.

Roky Erickson (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

While Metz was concluding its set, Roky Erickson was setting up for his. Though not many people recognized the name, the ones who did knew that this was going to be a special performance. The singer-songwriter not only founded the 13th Floor Elevators in the mid-‘60s but also paved the way for psychedelic rock. After suffering from mental illness and taking a break from music, he reemerged decades later, and looked nice and healthy as he and a four-piece band wailed in what would become the dance tent later in the evening.

Ty Segall (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

The afternoon continued with a relaxing, sit-down set by Ty Segall followed by a groovy, dance-inducing performance by Toro y Moi, both on the Charlotte Stage (yes, Charlotte from Sex In The City. The other stages were aptly named “Miranda,” “Carrie,” and “Samantha”), but as festival goers chit-chatted it was clear that the most anticipated early evening set was The Breeders reunion.

The Breeders (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

The five-piece girly rockers, led by former Pixies member Kim Deal, have been touring clubs and festivals alike this summer and playing their acclaimed sophomore album, Last Splash, in its entirety to celebrate its 20-year anniversary. As Deal strummed her guitar and sang in her airy voice, she played with a large grin on her face for the whole 55-minutes. The crowd sang along to hits like “Cannonball,” and “Divine Hammer,” and the band surprised its fans with an appearance from Bradford Cox, who sang with the ladies during “Saints.” Dressed in khakis and a green polo shirt, the Deerhunter front man looked oddly normal, but that all changed when his band took the stage. He had transformed from the boy whose mom bought him the Last Splash cassette when he was a pre-teen to an eccentric rock star adorned in a printed dress, shawl, and bobbed black wig. With the sun almost set, it was chilling to watch the atmospheric noise rockers play at dusk. Interestingly, they relied heavily on tracks from 2011’s Halcyon Digest rather than this year’s stripped down, garage rock-inspired Monomania, but also threw in gems like “Cover Me (Slowly)/Agoraphobia” and “Rainwater Cassette Exchange.”

Thee Oh Sees (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

People scurried from the Carrie stage to Miranda on the other side of the park while Deerhunter finished to catch a glimpse of Thee Oh Sees. Known for their chaotic live performances, it was interesting to see the Bay Area-based psych-punk-rockers play in a festival setting. The crowd squeezed in tight as John Dwyer and his band played songs off their ever-expanding catalog, creating an atmosphere similar to that of a small club. Those who chose not to run around stayed and waited for TV On The Radio to set up after Deerhunter, and though so much great music was emitting throughout the park this may have been the smarter decision. As the night wore on, more attendees began trickling in for the evening’s headliners, rendering the festival from “Fuck Yeah” to “Clusterfuck.” But all these cares dissolved as soon as Tunde and Kyp started singing their heavenly melodies. They played “Golden Age,” and “Dancing Shoes,” but the highlight was “Wolf Like Me.” As soon as the song started, it was hard not to dance.

STRFKR (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

This feeling was a good precursor to STRFKR (click here to read our interview with STRFKR’s Josh Hodges) which after some technical difficulties elicited a dance party of epic proportions. While the Portland-based electro-pop outfit focused on tracks from its recently released Miracle Mile, both the fans in the front and in the back danced uncontrollably. And though there were no absurd gimmicks during this performance, STRFKR utilized the stage’s large screens for pulsating visual effects rather than close-up band shots.

FLAG (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

While STRFKR started a dance party, FLAG started a mosh pit. The attendees that preferred punk rock to dance pop headed to watch virtually all of the Black Flag members play songs from the punk pioneers’ expansive catalog. They flew through songs like they were performing in a small, sweaty club, with little to no talking in between. And as Keith Morris screamed the lyrics to “Police Story,” the pit grew and bodies began to pop up and crowd surf.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

After sweating from dancing or sweating from moshing, there were only two acts that closed out the night: Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Death Grips. Karen O’s crew stormed through a varied set, playing fan favorites “Gold Lion,” “Zero,” and the beloved, “Maps.” And in standard YYYs fashion, the leading lady was a spectacle herself, wearing a sequined short and blazer suit adorned with black, sparkling crowns. “Fuckk Yeah Yeah Yeah!,” she wailed at the beginning of the set, and continued that energy for the full performance.

Death Grips (PHOTO: Beth Stirnaman/PureVolume)

On the other side of the park, Stefan Burnett and Zach Hill relied on a primal, raw energy as Death Grips annihilated the evening with their intense experimental hip-hop. After ditching out on Lollapalooza earlier this month, the largest surprise of the day (and maybe even festival) was the sheer fact that the band showed up. And as Burnett thrashed across the stage, screaming songs from last year’s The Money Store and No Love Deep Web, while Hill rapped his drum kit with all his might, it was clear this non-stop 50-minute-long set was the highlight of a lot of people’s evenings.

*Click here to see more from FYF 2013: Interviews, galleries, and more

— Katrina Nattress

Q&A: Thee Oh Sees’ Brigid Dawson Talks Summer Festivals And Prolific Songwriting

From OCS to Thee OhSees to its most recent and well-known incarnation, Thee Oh Sees, one thing is certain: John Dwyer is a prolific songwriter. What began as a solo project back in the late ‘90s has flourished into a successful band that has seven full-length albums under its belt (as Thee Oh Sees), not to mention countless EPs, 7”s and compilation appearances.

With such a vast discography, seeing the Bay Area-based noise rockers play live can be a different experience with each show. They blend tracks from their albums in with new material (which is ever-flowing) in their set lists, and the energy that the five-piece exudes onstage is infectious to say the least. Fresh back from shows in Europe and ready to hop down to Los Angeles for FYF Fest on August 24 and 25,  keyboardist/vocalist Brigid Dawson talks with us about her thoughts on festivals and Thee Oh Sees’ not-so-standard way of doing things.


PureVolume: What are some of your fondest (or most bizarre) festival memories?

Brigid Dawson: The lovely thing about playing festivals is that you get to see bands that maybe you wouldn’t normally get to see when you’re playing smaller shows.

Getting to see Slayer play last year in Austin at a big festival there was wonderful. They have been playing together for so long and yet they had lost none of their fire—they were just so awesome. The best though was watching Tinariwen at the Bad Bonn Kilbi festival in Switzerland this summer. We were all backstage, their music was so beautiful and I think everyone of us fell in love with them that night.


One of the festivals you’re playing this summer is FYF, a fest you’ve played in the past. What are you looking forward to most with this year’s festival?

For me it would be seeing TV on the Radio again. Kyp and Tunde’s voices are unfailingly beautiful together.


Does the dynamic of your live set ever feel different during large festival sets?

Not so much, we try and play the best we can every time we play.


Your live show seems to thrive in small clubs. Do you prefer intimate shows to large festivals?
I’ll always love the small club shows because that’s how we came up, and because that’s how I enjoy seeing music still. But sometimes we’ve played to a big crowd in a festival somewhere, and because of the audience, or just that moment in time, it’s felt like the warmest most intimate, club show, and those shows are some of my favorites.


I’m sure you get this a lot, but your band is so prolific when it comes to writing/recording. Can you take me through the process?

Usually we’ll have some songs that we’ve already been playing live, all ready to record. That usually goes pretty quickly in the studio because we always record everything at the same time, band and vocals. And then the last couple of days are just for writing new songs together, making some lovely meals and adding any other overdubs, strings, flute and all that.


You always seem to be on tour! How do you get the time to write/record so often?

I would say almost all of it is due to John’s amazing work ethic.


Why do you choose to release music so quickly?

There is no reason why we do that, we just record when we have the songs, and release the record shortly afterwards, so we are done with it, and can move on to the next songs.


Do you ever worry that you’re releasing music too often?

Nope.


Thee Oh Sees did begin as John Dwyer’s solo project. Is he still the primary songwriter?

Yes he is, he will usually bring in lyrics and a tune to practice, and we will write our own parts around that.


Though you’re still considered by most a “garage rock” band, a psychedelic presence seems stronger in more recent albums. How did this transition come about?

Well, we have never been a band that played the same kind of music year after year. When I joined the band eight years ago, we played sitting down, and the music was quiet and echoey and with loads of harmonies, and Patrick Mullins’ homemade noise instrument, simple drums and musical saw. Over the years, our music has gradually changed. It’s changed with each new band member joining, and with all the different music that we have been listening to.


I love Floating Coffin, but the album art is absolutely terrifying! What’s the backstory behind that?

We’d been making a video, and John had just got this taxidermy bear’s teeth and glass bull’s eye—and then there’s a bowl of strawberries on the kitchen table. You see how it can happen.


As with most Thee Oh Sees albums, the music in
Floating Coffin is hazy and upbeat but listen carefully and the lyrics are dark and macabre. What do you feel is important about creating a dichotomy like this?
This is really a question for John, as he writes the lyrics. Were I to venture an answer, I would say that the dark and the beautiful are side by side everywhere we look in this world. So really, aren’t both those things bound to find their way into whatever music or art that people make?

—Katrina Nattress

CONTEST: The Warped Tour 2013 Doodle Showdown!

 

Welcome to the Warped Tour 2013 Doodle Showdown!

Warped Tour North America may be already through, but the longest-running touring festival in the United States isn’t stopping there: From November through December, the fest will also be making its way through Europe and Australia.

For our 2013 Doodle Showdown installment, 24 Warped Tour bands scribbled away with markers to create band self-portraits. Now you can enter to win an autographed 14″ x 17″ drawing by your favorite bands:

Get a closer look at the bands’ doodles by going through the Warped Tour 2013 Doodle Showdown Gallery!

 

To enter to win, follow these three steps:
1. “Like” PureVolume on Facebook.
2. Follow us on Twitter @PureVolume.
3. Starting today—that’s Tuesday, August 20—PureVolume will be tweeting and updating Facebook with alerts to let you know which band’s portrait we will be giving away that day. Fans who respond to each tweet or Facebook post by retweeting will be entered to win the doodle and a winner will be chosen at random.

Oh, and BONUS!: The Wonder Years and Black Veil Brides (click here for details, BVB army!) want to see your take on band doodles!

Create your own doodle—and, by the way, creativity = bonus points—of the Wonder Years or Black Veil Brides and the bands will choose their favorite fan sketches. The winners will receive an autographed band self-portrait! To enter to win, just follow @PureVolume and tweet us your portrait of the Wonder Years or Black Veil Brides by September 23, 2013.

Good luck!