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.

 

The She’s Record Release

By: Joshua Zupan

San Francisco based quartet, The She’s prepare for the release of their second LP entitled “all female rock and roll quartet.” The She’s ultra melodic rock-pop hybrid sound has taken California’s greater bay area by storm for the last few years as their music progresses and evolves. Since junior high, four best friends: Sami, Hannah, Eva, and Sinclair have been writing and playing their own music, taking inspiration from the experience of adolescence and all the ups and down of being a young adult. Lyrically, they create an exquisite balance between themes of love and heartbreak, recognition, frustration, aspiration, and disappointment. <br>
Upcoming album, “all female rock and roll quartet” differs from past melodies, including more experimental and eccentric sounds that depict just how far the group has come since the beginning of their music career. This mature and honest movement of The She’s music sets an incredibly hopeful tone for dedicated fans and new listeners alike. The She’s will be performing at The Chapel in San Francisco, CA, on Tue, November 21, 2017 at 8:00 pm (doors at 7:00 pm), releasing their highly anticipated album alongside openers Plush and Pardoner.

2017 Rolling Loud Bay Area Review

If you follow any hip hop news outlets, it’s been pretty hard to avoid Rolling Loud coverage. The festival has been getting quite a bit of attention, mostly focused around Lil B getting jumped backstage, and XXXtentacion attacking a fan during his set. KZSC hip hop DJs Jinx, Elbo and RIZ aka RSD were on site for both these events, but we also saw some incredible performances that should be getting just as much attention. We’ve heard about the scandal, let’s hear about the music!

While Rolling Loud has been around for 2 years now, this October was the very first time it took place in the Bay Area– and from the looks of it, we have no doubts it will be back. As usual, the Bay did not disappoint and both the artists and crowd were hyped. We rolled up from Santa Cruz around 3:45 on Saturday, just in time to catch the last of Nef the Pharaohs set, specifically jamming from the security line to his hit song, and a personal favorite of ours, “Bling Blaow.” With our press wristbands on and ready to dance, we headed into the festival.

SOB X RBE

The next set we were especially excited about was Vallejo’s finest, SOB x RBE. Arguably, the best and youngest rap group in the whole country right now. SOB X RBE has improved performing live, as they have started to engage with the crowd more and actually perform. Their official DJ Xslapz educated those in attendance and played his fire set of Bay Area music. It was no doubt that a majority of the Bay Area fans came for SOB X RBE, who was one of less than 10 Bay Area artists on Rolling Loud Bay Area’s lineup. SOB X RBE showed up and showed out.

XXXtentacion

At 7:30, XXXtentacion came onstage, and with nothing else to see at the time, we decided to hop over and see what he was all about. Before we get into a review of his performance, I think we should recognize the fact that he was even performing at Rolling Loud to begin with. Convicted or not, X has been accused of a horrific and disturbing sexual assault, and it’s alarming that Rolling Loud would choose to ignore these accusations and have him on their bill anyways. It’s an extremely prevalent and recurring event on so many different platforms (music, film, politics, etc.) that society chooses to value whatever the perpetrator is putting into the world over the disgusting crime that almost all of us can agree was wrong. Despite the entire audience being aware of what X had done, everyone was there, unphased, ready and excited for his set. It’s situations just like this that we must ask ourselves, how much can we justify separating a person from their art? To what extent can we condemn a person’s actions while continuing to consume what they’ve created, and in turn contributing to their success? Something unique to XXXtentacion as a figure is that his violent and aggressive nature is part of what makes him appealing. He doesn’t try and hide it, in fact he’s proud and unapologetic about his behaviour. At his Rolling Loud performance, he played no more than one song before stopping to say something along the lines of, “I know I have a lot of haters out there. I respect that. If you have a problem with me all I have to say to you is come at me” He then proceeded to step off the stage on another man’s shoulders and enter into the crowd, encouraging anyone to hit him, essentially trying really really hard to start a brawl. When a few people took him up on the offer, he hit them back without hesitation. At this point it was pretty clear to us and everyone watching X wasn’t there to perform anything, he just wanted to make a scene and hold up his violent reputation. Almost everyone in the audience was disappointed– many were booing, and while it was frustrating to see such a stupid performance, it was also satisfying to see someone I have such a distaste for give a universally horrible show. Keep it up, X!

21 Savage

In the car driving home, we discussed who we were impressed by, who we wished had given a better performance, who we under/over estimated, and who we would see again. Without any argument, we all agreed 21 Savage was 100x more impressive than we expected. Judging from the media, 21 Savage is associated with the “trashy” “mumble rap” we so often hear as an insult, but after seeing him live we all agree: whether his style is your taste or not, the dude’s got talent. Unlike some of the other performances, 21 didn’t waste any time rambling about nonsense or yelling at the crowd to make a moshpit. He came onstage prepared and energized, hitting his set off with his most recent hit off his new album Issa, “Bank Account,” on top of legit performing most of his songs acapella with the beat dropping at the right time.

21 Savage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travis Scott

“Protect Lil B at all f*cking costs, mothaf*cka (gunshot noise)” was Travis Scott’s message between each song during his whole performance, on top his performance generally being lit af. Travis Scott had the whole crowd alive as he was jumping around on his giant mechanical flying bird. The crowd was loud in response as Travis Scott gave a mind blowing and unforgettable performance. It was certainly a great way to end the night.

 

Day 2, Sunday 10/22:

We got to the festival grounds a little later on Sunday, arriving around 6:15, and already the second day had a different feel to it. To start off, it felt like there were at least 25% more people in attendance, and despite (or maybe because of?) the events that took place the day before, the crowd felt wilder. Generally, it seemed like people were more excited about the Sunday lineup than they were the Saturday one. We met up with UCSC photographer and film student Keanu Ramos, who gave us some cameras so we could get access to the photo pit during the performances, which made our Sunday experience unique to our Saturday one.We got exclusive media photo pit access for Young Thug, Isaiah Rashad and Lil Wayne.

Lil Yachty

The first performance we saw on Sunday was Lil Yachty, which we caught up to about 10 minutes into his set. While most of Lil Yachty’s songs are bangers (I have no shame in admitting this & if you do you’re lying to yourself) the first thing you think when you hear his music is probably not “this would be really good live.” Which is why we were pleasantly surprised when we showed up and found that he sounds just as good on stage as he does recorded. Of course, it was his classic Yachty energy that really took the show to the next level. Something I love and have always admired about Lil Yachty is his ability to radiate pure joy in everything he does, and Rolling Loud was no exception. With a big smile on his face, Yachty jumped around the stage with Lil Pump, braids going everywhere, splashing water bottle after water bottle on the excited crowd. He killed all his hits, including Peek-a-Boo, One Night, and On Me.

 

Young Thug. Photo by Keanu Ramos

 

Young Thug

One place where Rolling Loud went wrong was scheduling Young Thug at the same time as Lil Wayne. Many people found it hard to choose between watching Young Thug and Lil Wayne, including ourselves so we just chose to jump back and forth throughout both sets (a pro to having the two stages ridiculously close to each other). Young Thug energized the crowd and it was surprising to us that he actually sang his entire set with no autotune and was hitting every key on point. Young Thug brought it back a couple times and played some of his songs from when he was first coming out such as: “Stoner,” “Hookah.” and “Lifestyle.” Overall, Young Thug gave an incredible performance and we really have no complaints.

 

 

 

Lil Wayne. Photo by Keanu Ramos

 

 

Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne was the last show we saw at Rolling Loud, and it was quite the finale. As the oldest and most experienced artist on the bill by a long shot, he felt like the godfather of the festival. He entered the stage with grace and ease, and you could tell the second he took the mic he knew exactly how to work a crowd. After performing his first song, he paused for a moment to look earnestly at the audience and remind us with his hand over his heart, “I need you to remember two things: y’all ain’t shit without the man above, and I ain’t shit without all of you.” After all these years, he seemed genuinely grateful and content to be exactly where he was in that moment. The audience could feel it.

 

Overall, Rolling Loud Bay Area was a great experience. We saw a number of incredible shows we would have never seen any other way, and we were very pleased with the whole festival. If you ever get the chance to hit this fest, do it!

 

— written by RIZ aka RSD & Neroli Devaney

 

DJ Shellheart interview w/ RIZ aka RSD @ 6th Annual Hiero Day 2017 (9.4.17)

Photo by Sanny Bisquerra—

I caught up with DJ Shellheart during Hiero Day 2017! Via no-platform.com: Riz interviews DJ Shellheart at American Steel Studios backstage at Hiero Day 2017. They talk about the origin of her name, meeting RBC Bugzy Rexx Life Raj,being an LGBT African-American Female DJ, how she started DJing & more in this interview.

Additionally, learn about DJ Shellheart here!

& her most recent mix here!

BigMoney Lil Sheik interview w/ RIZ aka RSD 7.30.17

I caught up with Lil Sheik of South Richmond, CA, during his YWN tour stop in Santa Cruz, CA with SOB X RBE. Via no-platform.com: Riz interviews Lil Sheik at So Fresh Clothing in Santa Cruz, CA. Watch as they discuss what it’s like being on the Yhung Wild Nation Tour, influences, Lil Tutu, working with Yhung T.O. and more in this interview.

Peep it here!

Additionally, make sure to listen to Lil Sheik’s new album “Still Remember” released 10/1/17!