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Daniel Caesar with Snoh Aalegra

His fans were as impressive as him

Three days before Daniel Caesar’s show at The New Parish in Oakland, I went to Jacob Banks at The Independent in San Francisco. Banks was the first show that ever brought me to tears, so I had high expectations for Caesar.

I got to The New Parish thirty minutes after doors opened to make sure I got a good spot for Caesar’s opener, Snoh Aalegra. It was extremely sold out, as in prices on StubHub were going for $200, so I probably should’ve got there earlier. By the time I did, the place was packed, but eventually I found a view of her from just behind the soundcheck. Not only does she have a voice, but she knew how to use it, especially live. Like Jacob Banks, she can get a crowd going, but Caesar has something more with his crowd. They were working with him.

When I heard all this hoopla about Daniel Caesar, I didn’t understand why Jacob Banks wasn’t getting the same. After hearing Caesar live, I do now. Caesar’s lyrics are more accessible. It’s pleasant to sing, even for the worst of us singers. And once your brain gets it stuck up in your head, all you wanna do is sing it with Caesar. Something most of his audience did. Something I don’t think most of the audience for Jacob Banks could pull off.

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Hiero Day 2017

Grown from Oakland

I talked about 2017’s Hiero Day with my manager at work, who use to be on Hieroglyphics’s label. We talked festival logistics, from pricing to setting up stages, and what makes a festival last. The one thing Hiero Day has above any other festival is its community.

Not many rap groups get a day commemorated to them by their city, and in turn make it a day of giving local musicians & artists a platform to show off their work. It’s a festival that’s grown from the area rather than copied and planted into the scene like many other festivals.

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Outside Lands 2017: The Jacob Banks Show

with other acts Lee Fields, Khruangbin, and Solange

I went to Outside Lands for its 10th anniversary to see the Gorillaz, but I ended up getting too drunk and ruining it for my girlfriend. Fortunately, I turned it around day two and three, so that’s good. Especially day three.

For most long weekend festivals, one day usually has the best performances, often more than the others combined. We started off the last day of Outside Lands with Lee Fields & The Expressions, Khruangbin in the afternoon, and Solange at night, but nothing mattered that day more than Jacob Banks. It was his weekend.

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Phono del Sol

Must see Duckwrth & Thee Oh Sees live

Phono del Sol is a boutique, one day festival at Potrero del Sol park in San Francisco. I planned on going to the festival in 2016 to see Adam Vida, but lived in the peninsula at the time, which was apparently too long of a trek for me that day.

2017 was for DUCKWRTH. I had never interviewed anyone in person and I had to save it for someone special. It was an enlightening talk and energetic performance. Thee Oh Sees also had an eye stunning set, but the most beautiful thing wasn’t any of the acts. It was behind them.

Both of the two stages at Phono were set behind lush green backgrounds, also called trees and shrubbery. DUCKWRTH and Thee Oh Sees set were especially beautiful with vines covering the stage. In an age of electronic producers djing in front of lit up metal walls, it’s nice to stare at something natural for an hour long set.

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Colossal Clusterfest

Comedy Central's first comedy & music festival

I love how Comedy Central can make a fool of themselves. The logo they’ve had since 2011 represents its goofy humor well, a lot like the name of their first ever comedy & music festival, Colossal Clusterfest.

For its first year, it wasn’t a complete cluster fuck, even though the comedians took full advantage of the name. It actually felt like there was more to do than at most music festivals. From visiting a replica of Seinfeld’s original set, which did seem to be a cluster fuck of a line, to a dating show where a comedian represented each of the contestants – I signed my friend up. But the best was still in the comedy and music shows.

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BottleRock 2017

Hard times make music better

BottleRock music festival has been held in Napa for the last five years and it’s damn fancy. It’s something I’ve been trying to get to for years, but unfortunately 2017 came around a difficult time. My girlfriend’s friend had recently passed away. We missed Friday, but thought it would be good to get into a different space for the long Memorial weekend.

We may not have had the time of our life in Napa, where it’s held, but it helped take us away from our typical routine. It gave us a chance to take a breath. Festivals aim to give you the best experience possible and to some extent usually pull it off, but more importantly they’re the place to see people at their best. A getaway filled with music, food and wine. And that’s exactly what we needed.

Saturday was a little rough. Trying to get a hold of where everything was and get our head out of anything too deep. Sunday we got our bearings and had someone special I wanted her to see. Fifteen minutes into Charles Bradley’s set and he had her balling. I was tearing up too. Bradley has a voice even our father’s appreciate, something that connects us all, that makes the deepness feel more full, especially in sadness. He made the weekend and took our mind into the moment instead of worrying about everything else.

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Upstream Music Fest + Summit, 2017

Seattle supports local music scenes

Upstream’s first year was focused on educating the Seattle music scene about how technology & community are helping drive better business in music. And also gave them a place to show off their skills live. Upstream’s potential is educating other local scenes by recording the panels and making an effort to distribute them online. In turn driving more people in the music industry to come, so they can in turn see what’s happening in Seattle and other local music scenes.

We did find plenty of musicians this year coming from other local scenes to perform. My hometown Minneapolis had quite a few I adore, but I really only went for one local Seattle musician. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see Gabriel Teodros play while I was there, but I did get to watch his panel during the summit. After, I introduced myself and had the chance to tell Gabriel how his music has affected my life and the blog. He recognized Silence Nogood’s name (I hate saying it in public), but when I got back I had to look up the brief conversations we had over the years. There were some gems.

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SXSW 2017

100,000 steps later

Austin’s Sixth Street is where the main action happens at SXSW by night, along with Rainey St. I walked between the two and the Austin Convention Center in total of 25 miles over the four days. I was wrecked by the end, especially my feet, but I had plenty of stories to reflect on.

Covering big festivals can be stressful at the start. Making sure everything is booked and packed. The red-eye flight there. Figuring out the plan during the festival. But most of all the pressure to find a good story, and get it on paper.

It’s good stress that’s both invigorating and inspiring. Whether you’re there for work or fun, the key is to keep an open mind & heart. There’s always a story to tell, so don’t stress the good stuff.

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BADBADNOTGOOD at The Fillmore

Noise Pop Festival's 2017 Show to See

Besides the musicians it books, the historic Fillmore in SF is known for its free apples and posters. You can have as many apples as you’d like, but not every show comes with a poster at the end of the night. I talked with one of the coordinators there and she told me that sold out shows and any of the bigger names will get a custom made poster for all attendees.

I’ve gotten three posters so far. My first was at Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, then a few months later at The Knocks, and finally for Noise Pop Festival’s 2017 show to see, BADBADNOTGOOD.

I still can’t believe how well a jazz band could rock. BADBADNOTGOOD is known for their low-key instrumental playfulness, and while that dominated the show, it got real rowdy at its peaks, especially towards the end.

Their music isn’t all jazz though. Their experimentation in electronic with jazz is among the best playing now. They had a collaboration with Ghostfast Killa a few years back. And they also recently teamed up with Kaytranada & Goldlink for the best dance song of 2016.

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The Last Ever Treasure Island Music Festival

The rain couldn't hold down most the performers and crowd

The 10th and final Treasure Island Music Festival was a rainy one. I’ve been to festivals with some showers before, but the rain got many crammed in tents for hours a day, if they could find one, and a few sets were cancelled. People were pissed.

By the second day I saw a long list of people’s complaints on Treasure Island’s Facebook & Twitter. They were selling their tickets for $20 and a hug or bitching about how unprepared the festival was for the storm. The Tunnel stage could barely handle the rain and the grounds should’ve been more accommodating to the conditions. Even the fans knew the rain was coming a week before.

The festival was still something to remember. People concentrate too much on the music and the creature comforts, but forget why we’re really there. To experience something together. If the music gets delayed, all the better to find people to share some stories with.

Let me know if you’ll be at Treasure Island this year. Close it out with us :)

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