Concert Review and Interview: Caleborate at the Catalyst (2.28.2018)

Interview and Review by: Julissa Garcia

Caleb Parker, once a young boy from Sacramento, blossomed into an artist who makes music to inspire change. Now greatly known as Caleborate, his persistence and humility has moved him towards doing what he loves and sharing his amazing musical talent out with the world. As an up-and- coming artist, Caleborate aspires to work against the grain and bring a new sound into mainstream music.

Caleb grew up living between his divorced parents and mentioned not really being able to make connections with people due to his constant moving between cities. What is most respectable though, is how he spoke about being open-minded about the instability instead of growing negative feelings towards the situation. He speaks very highly of his family and friends, truly speaking genuinely of them all. Through Caleb’s adolescence, he worked various jobs to sustain himself, but one thing he kept constant was his music. Since he was 16, Caleb, Caleborate, spent a lot of his time listening to beats and writing and hasn’t stopped since. He dedicated his life to it and speaks of loving his art and where it has taken him. Caleb made the decision to drop out of college and has since made significant growth with his music. Though he did mention that school was definitely something he wants to continue as soon as he possibly can get back to it, claiming that knowledge is power and he highly respects the opportunity to sit in a classroom to obtain growth from it.

In his most recent album Real Person, he talks about his struggles of losing friends, living in financial struggle, dealing with mental illness, and just what it means to him to be a real person. His whole album comes with unique sounds and a smooth flow. At his concert at the Catalyst on February 28th, he performed with great humility and joy. His interaction with the crowd made the whole scene comfortable and intimate. It was very noticeable that he is so grateful and appreciative to be where he is at in his life and appreciative of his growing, loyal fanbase. The connection he has with his team, his musical community that he has built, are definitely people that he claimed he was so thankful for. It was one of the most inspiring concerts.

ig: @caleborate
twitter: @CALEBORATE
soundcloud: Caleborate

Band Interviews: Exmag Interview with DJ Fizzi Pop (2.11.2018)

Interview by: Sarah Woolley

Over pesto pizza and motown soul playing in the background, I got to sit down with Brooklyn-based electro-funk trio Exmag at our very own Pizza my Heart.

 

DJ Fizzi Pop Interviews Exmag!

Over pesto pizza, IPA, and motown soul playing in the background, I got to sit down with Brooklyn-based electro-funk trio Exmag at our very own Pizza my Heart.

Eric, Tyler, and Dave have been on the road for the past month playing shows for their headlining Pleasure Tour. So far, they’ve played at notable venues such as The Roxy in Los Angeles, The Fox in Colorado, and our own Catalyst Atrium.

Their sound is of one that is notably unique in its style of combining hip-hop style electro beats and soulful, funky jazz elements to create an ethereal, soulfully harmonic aura throughout each track. They are known for their collaborations with artists on Lowtemp records, and have even done projects with notable artist such as Gramatik and Gibbz.  Every one of their albums tells an instrumental story, as if the different elements are conversing with each other. The contrasting musical styles of smooth and hard bass mesh together like cogs in a machine to create a smooth ride into space.

Exmag’s new single, One Two, came out earlier this year just in time for their tour to begin. Following their 2017 album Part 1, there are hopes that this single could mean a Part 2 is in the making. They had just finished playing Gem & Jam Festival in Arizona, and are planning to play more in the future.

These guys gave me the ultimate pleasure of letting me pick their brains about their musical talents and endeavors—even letting me take them out to Funk Night at the Crepe Place for their last night in Santa Cruz in celebration of the funkiest holiday known to man: Mardi Gras.

You can check out the full interview here! :

Concert Review: The Frights at the Catalyst Atrium (2.23.2018)

Review by: Lily Nauta

With their first album debuting in 2013 and their second and most recent in 2016, indie-rock band The Frights are a quickly growing group. The band picked up traction quick with lead singer Mikey Carnevale’s captivating vocals, paired with their tight drumming and pristine jangly guitar riffs.

The opening band On Drugs provided a psychedelic experience with the lead singer’s creeping, upper register vocals and metallic guitars. The band also hyped up the audience by unleashing the “Wall of Death”, in which the crowd divided then charged into each other at the height of the song. They’ve definitely inaugurated me into their fan club. The second opening band, Thee Commons, captivated the audience with their groovy Cumbia tunes and psychedelia. Like On Drugs, it was evident that Thee Commons knew how to harness the crowds energy– which they did with their low growling voices and audience engagement.

By the time The Frights entered the stage, the vibe was perfect. And the audience—consisting almost entirely of fellow slugs—was especially hyped after the band entered to a voice recording of them singing “Santa Cruz is bananas b-a-n-a-n-a-s!”. We slugs appreciate a good pun. Throughout the show, Mikey continued to make reference to Santa Cruz stereotypes; at one point even stopping just to gesture at a large group at the center to say, “Aw I love you guys, that is Santa Cruz right there- just a big group of guys jumping around in a circle.”

From the dense air to the towering “used car-sale blow up” decorations, the venue was atmospherically in tune with the entire room; thus creating an almost ethereal connection between the band and the audience.  The cloud of smoke looming over the audience further swallowed everyone into the bluesy haze during  songs like “Haunted” and “Of Age”. On the contrary, Mikey’s cosmic screeches in songs like “Crust Bucket” and “You Are Going to Hate this” caused the audience to lash out into a beautiful moshing frenzy.

Speaking of moshing frenzy, I (as a relatively small gal) made the poor choice of maneuvering my way into the center of the pit, only to find myself on the ground moments later with several large sweaty men on top of me. As they scrambled to get up, I laid there paralyzed like a little carcass or something and was eventually lifted up by the camaraderie of the mosh pit. Once back onto my feet, I was hugged by a very kind (and very sweaty) fella who patted me on the back to make sure I was okay. I never knew almost getting trampled could be such a euphoric experience. For the entirety of the show I jammed sporadically (this time on the sidelines) while engulfed in the visceral screams and intoxicating melodies of The Frights.

At the end of the night, the band concluded by saying, “we’ve traveled all around the US and you guys honestly are my favorite”. I guess these slugs are bananas.

Does RnB Vampire, Trippie Redd, Have a Place in the Hip-Hop Canon?

With hip-hops rise into the dominant culture over the last decade, we are approaching an era of hip-hop reminiscent of the late 20th century with rock and roll. An overwhelming number of rappers are appearing and disappearing before our eyes – one hit wonders. Like Soft Cell and Dexy’s Midnight Runners (or rather “Tainted Love” and “Come on Eileen”), rappers in 2018 only last long as their songs are on the charts, so what makes new artists stand out?

“What planet am I on?” asks Michael White IV, better known as Trippie Redd, on his December 2017 single “Dark Knight Dummo.” White is only 18 Earth years old, however he is not of this planet. Redd takes the David Bowie approach to stardom. He, like many other hip-hop up and comers in the post-Drake era, embodies a character. Watch one of his music videos (below) and you’ll see. In his “Hellboy” video, he is a demon slaying anti-hero video-game protagonist in the vein of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night’s Alucard. The 2017 music video features 3D graphics reminiscent of PlayStation 2 games, games that Redd grew up playing. In his latest video, for “Dark Knight Dummo,” he and a group of survivors dressed in army fatigues defend a cabin from oncoming zombies with a variety of firearms and power tools. This music video also echoes the culture that Trippie Redd consumed in his adolescence, with its genre-film-like film making and themes of zombie slaying straight out of Resident Evil. His black and sometimes blood-red hair, jaundiced-looking skin, and dark eyes evoke vampiric or demonic imagery. This is where Trippie Redd’s staying power may come from; This sense of nostalgia for mid 2000s video game and genre film violence is what makes his fans – fellow teens – continue to follow him. He is a blood diamond in the rough – a true source of darkness in an age of over-saturation and blinding lights.

But will Trippie Redd last, or will he be another flash in the pan? He has passed the one hit wonder mark – but in a year or two, will he be a mainstay in hip-hop, or just the RnB vampire of memory?

Trippie Redd’s new mixtape “A Love Letter to You 2” is available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music

— Written by Nick Amerkhanian

 

 

Dancing to Anxiety — A review of “The House” by Porches

“Wonder if you want to stay // or if it’s easier that way,” Aaron Maine cries out over some of the punchiest drums such a line has ever been sang over. His band, Porches, released their third studio album, The House, in January. The record features a series of minimalist pop tunes, with catchy hooks, danceable beats, and themes of self-isolation and anxiety. The opener, perhaps my favorite track of 2018 thus far, “Leave the House,” quoted earlier, tackles feelings of anxiety around a relationship; feelings that Aaron is putting in less than he is giving back, feelings that his relationship is unbalanced.

Before breaking into Aaron’s vocals over a duo of synthesizer and drum machine, the track begins with an eerie vocal harmony by (Sandy) Alex G, “Let it have me // how it wants // it’s never what you thought // it’s never what you thought.” “It” is a recurring character on this record. “It” manifests itself in many ways. On the second track, “Find Me,” Aaron fears the feelings of anxiety that seem to hunt him down, “I can’t let it find me // I can’t let it find me.” In “Leave the House,” “it” is his relationship – “it” is the imbalance that haunts him. “It” is something he wants to isolate himself from. “I don’t want to leave you out // I just want to leave the house // find something to think about // maybe take a walk around.” The beauty of “it” is that it is entirely abstract and up to the listeners interpretation. “It” can be manifested however the listener chooses, making “it” extremely personal.

By the closing lines of the track, the aforementioned “punchy” drums and synthesizer have gone. All that is left is Aaron with his final line “You give it to me for free // and I don’t think that you see // that you don’t get much from me // that you don’t get much from me” syncopated over the same line Alex G sings to open the track. Though the drums are gone, the beat carries on, and I’m still dancing – “it” keeps me dancing. What is left when the drums and synthesizer disappear – just Aaron and Alex harmonizing – is rather minimal, lyrically, and sonically, but it carries on the groove. This simultaneous lyrical simplicity and danceability makes Aaron’s new record exception. Anyone can manifest Aaron’s abstracted but concise words how they need to – anyone can relate to the fear and loneliness that serve as Aaron’s muse – and anyone can dance to his odd and unconventional grooves if they feel like it. The House makes our anxiety into something we can dance to.

The House is out now on Domino Records. It is available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music, and for purchase on Bandcamp and iTunes.

George Clinton and Parliament: Funkadelic at the Catalyst, October 17th 2017

By: Devin Lawrence, Zack Holbrook

“Funk is a force that tore the roof off the sucka that is modern music.” -Prince

We’re all very aware of the trope which typifies the band that hit their peak several decades ago, yet continue to perform and tour despite their aggressive mediocrity, having lost whatever chemistry brought them together originally, so far divorced from their original selves, brittle husks of who they used to be. I am still unsure how Lynyrd Skynyrd is still a Band With Members, given that the greater half of the band died in a plane crash, and Sublime with Rome has always struck me as a strange joke played by a kid showing sadistic cruelty to their Sims in The Sims 4. I’m 90% sure that The Unicorns briefly reunited with Arcade Fire to get that sweet opener cash. Would it be cynical to assume that Parliament-Funkadelic, with George Clinton being 76 years of age, has fallen in the same trap? Is it a passionless shut-up-and-play-the-hits-and-leave-for-the-next-venue situation?

You would be cynical and embarrassingly wrong. Woe unto you, thou of little faith! Funk is a powerful force, and I pray this review serves as an effective epistle to you, the reader, on the vitality of George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic.

My concert buddy & I weren’t aware of an opener, but that’s what we assumed what was happening at around 10pm, when someone started rapping over someone else beatboxing into a didgeridoo. The whole situation seemed alien and generally bemusing, until suddenly there were looped finger-snaps playing (likely off of a laptop), then suddenly someone’s behind the drums, and someone’s on guitar. Things started to make sense. My gearhead housemate beside me broke a key detail:
“That amp costs, like, $5K at least, either they’re using Parliament-Funkadelic’s gear or they know what they’re fucking doing.”
It turned out to be a bit of both. Another guy came on stage to rap, providing some verses, but mostly doing auxiliary rapping things, like ad-libs, or rapping out the last few syllables of a bar with the first guy. I later found out that the first performer to come out was George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic’s grandson Tra’zae, who managed to get the crowd moving upon the realization that this wasn’t a lousy gimmick, this kid’s got a decent flow and sounds good live!

Before the crowd could get upset about this strange Lack of George Clinton at the Show That Advertised George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, a somewhat aged man came onstage wearing a postman’s cap with angular iridescent jewelery affixed to it with an avant-garde white jacket that would look absolutely ridiculous on anyone else; he gave Tra’zae an affirming hug for getting the crowd decently warmed up. Suddenly, we see touring members of the great mothership Parliament-Funkadelic – a couple of singers who danced in minimalist goth outfits, a couple of guitarists (one of which I’m guessing was Garrett Shider), a bassist (who I assume to be Lige Curry), the drummer, a couple of people on brass. The Godfather of Funk had arrived in our small humble town.

I’m still not sure with what exact song the set opened with. Suffice to say it was a solid jam, not that I could make out any solid lyrics beyond the crowd chanting “Shit! Goddamn! Get off your ass and jam!” An educated guess was that what they started off with had “Get Off Your Ass And Jam” integrated into the true song live, given that the song ended with a few shouts that had the words “new single” in there somewhere. This marked a general tendency on my end to be unable to figure out a solid setlist. Either the lines between one distinct song and another were blurred, or we were in a situation where songs were stretched beyond their recorded length. Maybe some of column A, maybe some of column B, maybe both, maybe neither! It’s hard to say or care, given that you can’t help but get off your ass and jam to “Give Up The Funk (Tear Off The Sucker)” and forget what you were thinking about earlier.

The show pulsed with a vitality and camaraderie that flowed through the whole crowd. The crowd was one of the nicest I’ve ever had the pleasure of dancing with, completely lacking drunk monsters who have a tendency to shove anyone within a 30 foot range, no one getting too far into anyone else’s personal space. I noticed that early on those closest to the stage were relatively short, which I’ll assume were the crowd’s tall people wanting shorter people to be able to see Clinton & company. The intergenerational quality of the attendance confirmed that the funk is for everyone to enjoy, from college brats like me who had just turned 21 to the dudes far from middle-age who were still going hogwild to hits like “P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up).”  You could see the crowd move, not quite in formation or unison, but heads bobbing & rolling in an ocean of groove, or also be still and transfixed by a super intense saxophone solo. Someone would yell for people to put their hands up, and by god, you’d suddenly find yourself in a veritable sea of hands, waving to the music. If George Clinton told you to clap your hands, you could feel the collective force of other people’s hands clapping with yours. The show was lush in moments for anyone to go buckwild out of excitement, from the moment you realize the dude playing tambourine was now singing Maggot Brain cut “Super Stupid”, to George Clinton borrowing the hooks to “Get Low” by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz or “I Don’t F*** With You” by Big Sean & E-40. I practically lost my mind over hearing  “Maggot Brain.” The amount of call & response in the show was heavy, whether it be the audience singing along to the chorus, having us clap to the beat, raise up the horns, and with every instance someone waggled their fingers to get the crowd to get louder, I’d get more invested in the show.

Perhaps it can be attested that Parliament-Funkadelic isn’t necessarily a band, but more of a brilliant collective that’s headed by George Clinton. By his own guesstimate, there’s around 75 people in the P-Funk family. There are serious people who leave their mark (R.I.P. Eddie Hazel), but the music clearly belongs to everyone, as long as Clinton’s still conducting this musical crazy train. You can see just how many people make up the P-Funk experience on George Clinton’s website, & not all 70 something were on stage. The members which scattered the stage ranged from those barely entering middle school, to those who witnessed the original Parliament’s first performcnce, but it was clear everyone there was a part of P-Funk. P-Funk seems to be open to all ages, as everyone’s invited! Perhaps that keeps P-Funk from growing stale, with new blood maintaining the vitality of the live show. There’s no “optimal lineup” or combination of P-Funk members as far as I’m aware, there’s just P-Funk as it is, one nation under a groove.

For every part of the show that I could expect came parts I wouldn’t expect. I did not expect any serious rapping over a man beatboxing into a didgeridoo. I did not expect to see a character that I now know as The Nose (presumably Carlos McMurray) to show up at the stage in the middle of the set, dressed in beautiful white fur clothes & a belt that spelled out “Nose” in massive cartoon letters (perhaps in rhinestone), sass the crowd with pursed lips, giving us a thumbs-down for not being live enough, throw off his jacket, & proceed to perform some acrobatic stunts on the speakers. There were a few breaks from the funk for some slower R&B songs, but you wouldn’t expect “Get Low”, a trap-inflected song off Funkadelic’s most recent album, to translate so well to a live performance, and you wouldn’t expect the heavy metal interlude that came straight out of left field, supprising the whole crowd.
“Funk not only moves, it can re-move, dig?” – Lollipop Man

Parliament-Funkadelic live is nothing short of spectacular. Through the show, in spite of my bad back and sore feet that usually bedevil me for shows, I genuinely felt healed. The intoxicating atmosphere had me bedazzled until they ended with “Atomic Dog.” I don’t understand some things about the show, whether or not time was dilated in The Catalyst, if I was actually sore or not, or how in the hell George Clinton’s outlived Prince, Bowie, Rick James, let alone how he’s managed to stay awake after hustling through a two hour set.

Here is what I can take away from the show in good confidence: George Clinton for President. If I could ever afford a car in my life, let me put that bumper sticker on it.