It was a typically balmy Wednesday night in beautiful Santa Barbara with an atypical headliner at the famed local concert hotspot. The Santa Barbara Bowl doesn’t host a lot of hard rock shows, perhaps due to volume limits in the residential neighborhood, although Incubus is a band known for a dynamic sound that stretches wider than the alt-hard rock genre is generally known for. The beautiful venue had to offer an alluring change of pace for the band after having finished a co-headlining summer tour with the Deftones that hit larger sheds and arenas.
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For fans of electronic music, one of the most invigorating musicians on the scene right now is Robert DeLong. Though that may be somewhat surprising given that I was saying similar things about him two years ago. But DeLong has proved staying power despite what could have become a show that only drew an audience for its novelty. (His biggest hit so far includes the lyrics “make you fuckin’ dance” and his live performance requires the use of video game controllers.) But, returning with a new album, In the Cards, DeLong is stronger than ever.
In September, New Yorkers might have caught a glimpse of Nashville-based artist Ruby Amanfu during the Neil Fest event at Bowery Ballroom. Amanfu was one of many artists performing covers of Neil Young songs as part of a benefit for Sweet Relief. Covering Young’s “For the Turnstiles”, Amanfu proved more capable of adding her own style and voice to others’ songs, which is a great incentive to listen to her new album, Standing Still, as it features mostly other musician’s works, including Brandi Carlile’s “Shadow on the Wall” (for which there is a video you can watch below), Bob Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet” (the cover she did at Dylan Fest led to the creation of this album) and Kanye West’s “Street Lights”. In fact, out of the ten songs, only the deep “I Tried” is an original.
The first time most people will hear the name Kamasi Washington is in connection with many of the people he’s collaborated with, Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat or Flying Lotus to name a few. But Washington is more than a supporting player for these colleagues. He’s a downright monster of a musician whose first album The Epic is a three hour wild ride through jazz, fused with hip-hop, soul and other influences. His first shows in New York City were the four gigs over two nights at the famed Blue Note establishment. All the seats at the shows were sold out, but some bar spots were available before each show and as a result, the Blue Note had a line down the block, with some people waiting several hours to see Washington perform. Fortunately, I was able to get in for the 8 pm set on the second night.
Day Wave, the musical project from the Jackson Phillips, released their first single last year but quickly saw their buzz grow across the blogosphere. This year, one month after the release of their debut EP, Headcase, Day Wave brought his dreamy rock to the sold-out Mercury Lounge in New York City to perform for the first time in the city. Before the doors opened on that August evening, a long line had formed at the venue of people waiting to get in including—surprisingly the group in front of me discussed already having seen Day Wave perform somewhere, so it seems he’s building a fanbase. Before Day Wave took the stage, they had Brooklyn based Surf Rock Is Dead stir up the crowd.