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Portola Music Festival

68 musicians on a pier in the height of SF "summer" weather

The inaugural Portola Music Festival is running on San Francisco’s Pier 80 the last weekend in September, also known as my mother’s birthday (that Saturday). It features 68 of my favorite emerging & established musicians, including Channel Tres, Kaytranada, and Jungle. As my friend called it, “it’s better than a highly curated portion of Coachella.” And of course it’s put on by the same people, Goldenvoice.

There’s no better measure of hype around a festival than when more friends ask if I’m going. Check out my favorite picks below. I’ll see you there.

Happy birthday, mom!

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Late Night Jazz

The sad you wanna feel

There’s nothing I want more at night than some good jazz. I never set aside enough time consistently to get away. Hoping this helps.

I’ve wanted to make a jazz playlist for far too long. I almost kind of did, twice. I always focused too much on the electronic/hip-hop inspired beats. They have the qualities of jazz, but were ultimately more than that. I finally took the time to find nothing but jazz or at least most of it.

To start off this list, Bill Evans– who may be my favorite artist of this year, even though he’s long gone.

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Feelin’ Good as Hell Vibes

featuring Nina Simone, Lizzo and The Beach Boys

I made this for a friend a few months ago that wanted a playlist with uplifting music. It feels like a compliment to my Keep Calm playlist, which was for when we went into the pandemic, and this is the outro, hopefully.

The silly reason I never posted this playlist on Silence before is that I couldn’t find good art for it. Then comes along Midjourney, something similar to DALI-2, that can generate images based off a string of text, and presto here she is! Guess what my input text was.

The title is based on the first three songs of this list.

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Mill Valley Music Fest

Following La Doña to some beautiful backgrounds

Photo by Paige K. Parsons / Mill Valley Music Festival

Mill Valley’s inaugural day long music festival was quaint and well put together. It featured five bands on one stage, but my partner and I were there for La Doña.

We first saw La Doña at the opening of the new KQED building back in November. She’s becoming a staple of San Francisco music and represents it well with her family filling out the rest of the band. When I found out she was opening up Mill Valley’s first festival, I knew this would be a perfect setting to see her and her family perform again.

Mill Valley Music Fest was a romantic getaway from the city in the beautiful Spring sunshine and a backdrop of the Napa hills. Plus, it ended at a reasonable time. Let’s normalize day partying.

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Songs to See at Sxsw, 2022

Just over 100 artists, but especially six

It’s been three years! I missed SXSW live and in Austin, but a pandemic broke my favorite live event of the year and all others in 2020 & 2021.

2022 is my fifth year at South by! Looking back, I realized that live music was the second most important reason I go. More importantly, it’s to better understand culture and how it ticks. There’s no better place for that than live music, and SXSW is one of the best showcases around the world.

There’s been a theme with every showcase and this year pushes my boundaries like all good things do. I may have thought back in 2016 with my Women Behind the Boards post that there was and still is a lack of DJ’s who identify as women. I don’t know if I can say the same for lead vocalists, thankfully. The latest example, all of my top picks at SXSW 2022. Half of which I got to see, half sadly I did not.

TEKE::TEKE and Annabelle Chairlegs had such good performances (separately) that I saw them again (separately). Some of the most expressive faces I’ve ever seen in a show – pictures above and below. Sadly, I only got to see Joseph once, but it was in the majestic St. David’s Historic Sanctuary and their voices gave me electrofying goosebumps.

Three of my other most anticipated vocalists I didn’t get to see live. Petty Booka was online only :( I’d love to create a play about their music, which is a blending of Japanese and Hawaiian music. The music had such strong visuals for me. Luna Li cancelled her tour, which I was suppose to see in San Francisco and Austin, but I did catch her set online when she was in Oakland. It was one of those weekdays where I couldn’t make the trip, ugh. Still, a lovely show. Jacks Haupt was the only show I actually could’ve missed and did so because my plane arrived in Austin a few hours too late.

I missed the days of Hypem at SXSW, seeing Anderson .Paak more than a few times, but the music is just as rich in culture from around the world this year. Thanks to my photographer, Chris, and for the company, Regina and Alejandra <3

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Picks 4 Noise Pop 2022

But especially Alice Phoebe Lou

Noise Pop’s annual festival has been my live music kickoff to the year since I moved to San Francisco, and it’s good to have it back.

Like I did first in 2019, I went through every single artist to figure out my schedule. I love how drastically different the music is this year for me. Most of it surprisingly chill, jazz music, but styles stretch as far as trap metal, hyperpop. Maybe I’m just expanding my tastes, but of course it dips into my usual staples of indie and even more so soul.

Check out all the content from the shows below, but if you consume one thing, watch Alice Phoebe Lou’s “Only When I” video.

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Music of the Year, 2021

Doja Cat was my #1, but Lost in Riddim defined the year

It’s been over 12 years since starting Silence and I’ve done quite a few playlists summing up each year’s “best music”, but I’ve taken this year a bit more seriously. I haven’t been able to keep up posting every song that’s been stuck up in my head this past year, but I’ll start making a habit to at least get it in a yearly round up like the one below.

I’ve been pretty on & off on this “blog” over the years with having a definitive Music of the Year playlist (I plan to go back), but I’ve kept track of my #1 musician more intentionally since 2014. That year it was Doja Cat with her Purrr! EP and this year it’s Doja again for so much more. Which I’ll need another seven years to unpack. But even more than Doja, seeing an afrobeats festival live was my most defining moment of 2021.

It’s crazy how most of my music discovery has been online over the past 25 years (since Napster), but the one thing I’ve learned writing for Silence Nogood is how much more influential it is seeing a musician live. I didn’t get to more than a few festivals in 2021, mostly because of the pandemic, but one festival influenced this best of 2021 playlist the greatest, Lost in Riddim. It introduced me to afrobeats on a level like I’ve never been introduced to any music culture in one weekend. It was a 20 act crash-course into the world’s hotspot in music right now.

The playlist is just over 10% afrobeats and nothing but dance and soul music. I’ve played this list of 50 songs over 50 times all the way through to trim it down as much possible – it started with over 100. That’s days of listening straight to only a few handfuls of music and I never got sick of any one of these 50.

A special thanks to Liz for being my third and fourth ear on this list. And everyone else listening with me over 12 years++ Sincerely, thank you. Many more to come o_0

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Lost in Riddim Festival

Celebrating the new rhythms of Africa & the Caribbean

Lost in Riddim was a healthy introduction to afrobeats. I’ve looked back at using afrobeats in the past on Silence Nogood and I should’ve done more research. As much as Chiddy Bang and Bixiga 70 I’m sure had some sort of afrobeats influence, it’s not even close to the music that I listened to at Lost in Riddim – a two-day festival in Sacramento with performers mainly from Nigeria and the Caribbeans.

I went through at least 14 hours of afrobeats music in two playlists (1, 2) to prepare for Lost in Riddim, and made a 15-track playlist of my own (see below).

London produced two of my favorite tracks off the playlist. Tiwa Kawa’s Koroba and Rema’s Soundgasm. I’ll talk about Rema’s music next paragraph, but about this time last week, I heard my partner humming Tiwa’s “Koroba”. She told me that’s how she first hears the music I love – from me humming a tune, only to listen to the song later and recognize it from my humming. This is how music spreads. From your partner humming.

Other than Koroba, Rema’s music has been buzzing around my head and lips all month, especially after hearing him live. He’s got the best catalog and I got the best shots of him at Riddom (pics & video below). His fine detail in word choice and style is something I haven’t heard since JID. Finesse at its finest, especially after the “beeeeep” on “Soundgasm” ~2 minutes in.

If Tiwa had the song and Rema was best overall, Sho Madjozi had the performance. She was the first set I saw on the last day of the festival. She was the most charismatic performer and her audience reflected it. From teaching us all stepping moves to coming out into the crowd for a short performance, she hit the timing right more than once.

Lost in Riddim was a festival of the future. Not just the afrobeats music, but the niche festival itself. I got to dive into another culture for a weekend and experience more than just one set on the side stage. It was everything and the crowd reflected that.

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BottleRock 2021 • Music Discovery Online & Off

Some of the best discovery this year was at BottleRock & their playlist

BottleRock had some amazing emerging artists play, but besides going through all 70 or so performers before the festival on Spotify, there wasn’t any easy way to find what performance to go to next. Discovering new artists is a problem I see at all festivals, but I think there is a solution – something I briefly go over in my 2019 SXSW recap.

Unfortunately, I was only able to listen to half of the performers before BottleRock, and of course, by the time I got around to listen to the other half, I missed my top discovery, Watchhouse (but Jessie Reyez was an excellent alternative).

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What was SXSW 2020 & ’21

Still great music, but not much of an experience

SXSW was all digital in 2021 and it didn’t go as well as I would’ve hoped. The schedule was off so I only saw a few shows (if any). I did do my yearly ritual of going through all of the thousands of SXSW performers on Spotify to find a few gems.

Since there were only a few hundred performers in 2021, I went back to the 2020 list I was creating until the pandemic hit last March. SXSW continually expands my taste in music and 2020 and ’21 seem to be the biggest expansion yet. 2019 may have been my biggest move internationally, but these past two years expanded into a genre I rarely touch, country. It wasn’t all solely country by any means, but it still heavily pushed my tastes and that’s what SXSW does best. Can’t wait for 2022 when we’re live again.

One last note. I haven’t been curating as much music lately, but I have been doing so with podcasts on a podcast app, called Hark. We’re doing some interesting stuff over there – check out some of my work.

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