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Festivals

john talabotOver the coming months, we’ll be highlighting a series of artists performing at Sasquatch Music Festival 2013 between May 24-27 at The Gorge Amphitheater in Quincy, Washington. Instead of a typical overview/introduction to each act, we’ll attempt to highlight what and how they’ll enhance the always wonderful Sasquatch experience. If you missed the initial lineup announcement, you can catch it here!

Much fuss has been made about the supposed lack of “EDM” figureheads at major American festivals this year, critics pointing to Coachella’s lack of a Swedish House Mafia-type headliner or the fact that Daft Punk have not shown up on any lineups (again). To a lesser extent, Sasquatch fans have complained about the Banana Shack’s (dance tent) shift in focus away from boom-or-bust DJs (think Nero, Wolfgang Gartner in the past), some commenters even going as far as to lament the lack of electronic artists period. Woe is the life of a 16 year old. While we shudder to think about how much Sasquatch shelled out for Steve Aoki, it is true that the festival has moved away from the kid-friendly acts that have dominated the Shack in recent years and towards, shall we say, something a bit more mature. Illustrating that point, we’ve decided to put the focus on our favorite Catalonian producer, John Talabot.

Hailing from Barcelona, Talabot has been an integral part of the Catalonian club scene for years, formerly as a techno DJ and currently as one of its most prominent acts. In short, Talabot emerged in 2009 after a pseudonym change and has released music on German label Permanent Vacation, Young Turks and his own Hivern Discs imprint. Talabot released his debut LP, fIN, last year and has captured the hearts of dance freaks and indie kids with equal fervor.

Stream: John Talabot – “So Will Be Now” feat. Pional

Talabot makes disco-inflected music, but not like anything you’ve heard before. The drums are tough and cut deeper than most other artists of his ilk and his vocals (contributed by Talabot himself and oftentime collaborator Pional), synth work and various samples are often drenched in waves of distortion that seems to echo from the deepest depths of the mix. Basslines are equally drawn out and momentous, tightly wound balls of energy that carry all the funk of early electro producers like Arabian Prince and Egyptian Lover. Talabot’s insistence on eschewing the formulaic nature of (most) house music allows for his songs to not only be amazing DJ tools, but to operate as functional pop music. “So Will Be Now” and “Destiny” are the prime example of this and both have been lauded by Pitchfork and other influential publications for their ear-worm qualities.

Stream: John Talabot – “Destiny” feat. Pional

It’s no surprise that both “So Will Be Now” and “Destiny” are assisted by fellow Catalonian Pional who contributes vocals to several Talabot jams and often plays a huge part in his live set up. Unfortunately, Pional (as far as we know) will not be joining Talabot at The Gorge, a large albeit not all-defeating loss. Sasquatch doesn’t always make it 100% clear whether artists will be performing a live or DJ set (see: SBTRKT last year), but we’re going to go by the fact that there’s no “DJ” in parentheses next to Talabot’s name on the lineup and assume that he’s playing a live set.

Stream: John Talabot Live @ 10 Days Off Festival

So imagine this: Talabot manipulating a mess of drum machines and samplers on stage as the sun slowly dips into the Columbia River and before you even realize it, the vocals of “Sunshine” begin to eclipse a muddy heap of distortion and twinkling chimes and come to coalesce perfectly with the razor sharp kicks. You’ve been waiting for this moment of blissful satisfaction for the past hour  and when it hits, it’s impossible not to get swept up in the moment. Patience pays off after all.

Over the past nine years, Seattle’s Decibel Festival has established itself as one of the premier purveyors of forward thinking electronic music in the world. While not quite as recognizable as names like Sonar or MUTEK, Decibel’s focus on live performance and technology, both through its panels and showcases, has elevated it to revered status among fans and artists alike. Like any festival, the lineup poses many difficult choices, but because Decibel is held at venues across the city, discerning festival attendees usually have to choose one or two events to hit a night. To possibly aid your decision making process, we’ve chosen the five showcases that we are most excited about. Of course, it’s impossible to predict which showcases will be the biggest hits and there will certainly be more than a few surprises. With legends like Carl Craig, Orbital, DJ Shadow and Erykah Badu’s Cannabinoids project on the bill, as well as a special visit from The Boiler Room, it is sure to be a special five days. And to be honest, you can’t really go wrong with any of the dB showcases. Without further ado, our recommendations…

Beat Prodigies Presented By LFTF Feat. Dabrye, Samo Soundboy, Kid Smpl, Keyboard Kid and Katie Kate (Wednesday September 26 @ Barboza 21+)

Unsurprisingly, the good folks at Live For The Funk have put together one of the most diverse, eccentric showcases of the entire festival. Beat Prodigies is headlined Beat scene legend and Dilla disciple Dabrye who has laid low for the the past half-decade. The Detroit native has only released one EP (as James T. Cotton), but his left-field sampleology still sounds as fresh as ever. Samo Soundboy is the founder of Body High and one of the foremost purveyors of American club music. His latest release, the 5 Dollar Paradise EP, is an exhibition in acid sounds bridging the TR-303 with contemporary club sounds that should light a fire under the Barboza dancers. Contrasting the upbeat hip hop and club sounds of the two headliners, Kid Smpl will bring the Night Bus vibes to the club. Rounding out the lineup are Keyboard Kid and Katie Kid. Expect tempos to swing wildly throughout the showcase and be prepared to vogue.. or whatever you do.

Find our Thursday-Sunday recommendations after the jump…

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Imagine a beautiful fall day in The Bay, I know there aren’t many, but bare with me. You’re on the strange man made flotilla known as Treasure Island and facing the city of San Francisco. All around you are people of all age, race and gender. Directly in front of you is a stage with around 15 girls booty dancing with Buraka Som Sistema. Kuduro blast from the speakers as the crowd collectively loses their shit. It’s a strangely serene scene as the San Francisco skyline looms in the distance and water laps at the shores of the island. It makes for one of the most unique festival experiences you’ll ever encounter.

The 2012 edition of TIMF is similar to past year’s in that it splits the two days into basically dance/hip hop (first day) and I guess indie rock (second day). Day one is pretty perplexing honestly. While acts like SBTRKT, Matthew Dear, Grimes and Toro Y Moi are all enticing, why does Girl Talk command the closing spot? He’s been doing the same schtick for the better part of eight years now, a schtick that was never all that cool in the first place. Anyways, rant over. Day Two’s headliners more than make up for Day One’s fallacies.

What can I say about The xx that hasn’t been said? I’ve been known to make rash, sweeping statements, but I can say that they are without a doubt my favorite band. With M83, Ty Segall and Best Coast also on the bill, some of the best dance parties might actually take place on Day Two. Even if your not a huge fan of the lineup, I highly recommend checking out the festival for its location and superior production alone. Check out the lineup video below and the full bill after the jump.

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FYF Fest 2011 (Photo by Gabe Meier)

One of LA’s most underrated indie festivals, FYF Fest (formerly Fuck Yeah Fest), will be back in full swing this September. According to the festival’s website, the event will expand this year from one day to two, taking place on September 1st and 2nd at the State Historic Park in Downtown LA. FYF is known for putting together deliciously eclectic lineups, with an appealing mix of well-known artists and newcomers from a wide array of genres, sure to please a variety of musical and cultural tastes. This year, the festival’s headliners consist M83, Beirut and Refused; other notable acts include James Blake (!!!!), Sleigh Bells, Desaparecidos, Simian Mobile Disco, Tycho, Purity Ring, Gold Panda, Chairlift, Aesop Rock, AA Bondy, Dam Funk, and many others. The festival possesses a laid-back, sun-drenched vibe, and its accessibility in Downtown LA makes it a unique setting for some really fantastic performances to take place. This is not one to miss.

Weekend passes start at $77 and go on sale this Friday, the 22nd. Check out the full lineup after the jump.

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It’s been almost two weeks since we first pulled up to the cow pastures of George, WA and well, our daily lives just don’t quite contain the same excitement we experienced during those four transcendent days at the Gorge Amphitheater. Nonetheless, we take great pleasure in rehashing our adventures via set recaps and photos. Sasquatch has come and gone, but memories of dusty walks to and from the campsite, an innumerable amount of mind-blowing sets and many, many pretty lights are oh so fresh in our minds. It’s a bittersweet moment as we conclude our coverage of the very best weekend of the year, but it also means that Sasquatch is only 350-something days away. Enjoy.

AraabMuzik (Saturday @ Banana Shack)

Active Child (Sunday @ Yeti Stage)

Star Slinger (Sunday @ Banana Shack)

SBTRKT (Monday @ Banana Shack)

Friday/Monday Photo Gallery

Saturday/Sunday Photo Gallery

AraabMuzik is something of an enigma. He’s managed to entice worlds as disparate as New York hip hop, dance festival crowds and the Pitchforkians. He’s worked with Dipset for years, crafting some of their most grimy bangers. He’s played alongside just about every major American dance act in the past six months at festivals across the country. The trance sampling Electronic Dream, an extension of the Dipset Trance Party mixtapes, was one of the most innovative albums that’s come out in quite some time. Besides the now ubiquitous drum patterns, I doubt anyone would guess that the guy who produced “Streetz Tonight” also worked behind the boards on “Salute”. His virtually unmatched production dexterity in the pop realm is what got him on festival stages, but his work on them has catapulted him into a higher realm of popularity. Utilizing his background as a drummer, Araab attacks two MPC’s on stage with remarkable aplomb. Most have seen the videos, but it’s quite a spectacle in person. That’s the issue with it though, it’s a spectacle.

I’ve seen Araab twice now and honestly, it gets boring after 20 minutes or so. After that 20 minute point, the show settles into a malaise of snares, hi hats and mediocre dubstep. Now this isn’t a rant against the ills of “brostep” or anything of that sort. I can enjoy some Nero or Rusko just as much as the next guy if I’m in the right mind state. But by the time Araab had worked in the fourth straight Skrillex song, he looked like a caricature up there, pecking away at the MPC pads. My issue with his set is mostly due to song selection. For god sakes, how do you only play one track off of Electronic Dream? But his MPC work gets old too. He’s not so much crafting beats, new or old, on stage as he is fuxing around with percussion over them. It’s a novelty. Breathtaking for 15 minutes. Trite and monotonous by 20.

That being said, the majority of the crowd remained enthused for the 45 minute runtime despite the fairly early start (5:40). Dressed in camo head to toe, he remained intensely focused on the pads in front of him, rarely looking up to see the crowd in front. He’s not much of a performer by his looks (he might be 5′ 6″), but he makes up for it by doing far more than just about any other DJ out there. Maybe I’m just a hater and Araab’s set is the greatest thing since the introduction of the airhorn into DJ sets. With his production chops though, I have faith that he can improve his live set into something more complete. Step off the Skrillex throttle for quick sec. Take a breath and maybe I won’t look like this in minute 40.

There weren’t many artists more suited to play Sasquatch than Star Slinger due to his grizzly appearance. The Mancunian producer/DJ eschewed his trusty MPD32, instead opting for two Technics and put on a whirlwind display of turntable mastery. Star Slinger has cemented himself as one of, if not the, best hip hop producers in the UK, but he’s still relatively unknown on this side of the Atlantic. Once he took the stage in the Banana Shack though, there was no doubt he was going to make his presence known. Starting off slow with a few selections from Volume 1, Slinger quickly turn’t it up playing “Chain Dumbin” featuring Juicy J and Project Pat and the crowd followed in a starkly un-family friend fashion. Before long thousands of white people were doing the Larry David to Sound Pellegrino Thermal Team’s “Pretty Pretty Good” and chanting “Kobe Bryant from the Lakers, now that’s paper” to Juicy J’s cult hit “Who Da Neighbors”. There aren’t many DJ’s out there that can effortlessly, and I mean that, transition between off-kilter club cuts (“Pretty Pretty Good”) to blissed-out summer jams (“Mornin”) then back to trappy hip hop tracks (“Bad Bitches”). Although the crowd was on the smaller side, they were easily one of the more in tune with the music crowds, chanting every word with aplomb.

We’ve been a little bit slow rolling our Sasquatch coverage out, but don’t fret, the tap is now open.

SBTRKT took the stage at 8:00 on Monday and after some disappointment over Sampha (who is as much a part of SBTRKT as Jerome is) not being at The Gorge, we settled into what would be one of the most entertaining and eclectic sets of the weekend. After witnessing the live set at Coachella, I was ready for the DJ set and Jerome took to his MPD32 with visible enthusiasm. Bestowed in his trademark mask, he proceeded to drop selections of house, garage and dubstep. Songs ranged from well known hits like Dada Life’s “Kick Out The Epic Motherfucker” to Boddika’s “Grand Prix”. On the originals front, the Drake assisted version of “Wildfire” predictably got the crowd amped, prompting the masked man to play it again towards the end of the set. “Hold On” and “Ready Set Loop” were also crowd favorites. While often light hearted (his hand seemed to get stuck on the air horn pad a few too many times), the set also functioned to introduce American fans to a number of British artists in the house and dubstep realms and was a much-needed break from the often monotonous electro and progressive house sounds that usually pervades dance tents at US festivals. The lack of Sampha took some emotion out of the set as the two usually vibe especially well in a live setting, but Jerome did more than his part as a DJ. To conclude, here is a video of Madeline and I dancing in the crowd.

So Sasquatch is only three days away. Seems like only days ago that we began to cover the festival. In anticipation of the festival, we have joined forces with Portland’s own Rustu to bring you the one and only Sasquatch 2012 Mix. It’s that time of year folks and whether you’re into Apparat or Active Child, this mix is the perfect primer for your weekend. Even if you’re not planning on attending the most perfect of perfect music festivals, passing on this mix would be a (major) mistake. Give Rustu some props over at his Soundcloud and get hyped for the weekend. Stream/download below and find the full tracklist after the jump.

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After further investigation, the live FlyLo video I posted earlier is not the only set from Sónar São Paulo. In all my excitement, I overlooked sets from Rustie, Four Tet, James Pants, Cut Chemist, Skream, Chromeo and the ultimate supervillain… DOOM. Now, I haven’t gotten around to the DOOM video because I’m still bitter he sent an impostor to a show in Seattle a few years ago, but I’ll get over my hurt feelings eventually and press the play button. I highly recommend the Rustie video, but please just listen to the audio. The camera work is painfully abrasive. What I gathered from these videos? No one has more fun on stage than FlyLo. The dude just has an aura of unstoppable charisma surrounding him. He can’t be beat. Find all of the videos at the Sónar Youtube page and our favorites after the jump. If we’re lucky, we’ll get similar videos of James Blake, Hudson Mohawke, Justice and Modeselektor from Sónar.

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