I.M.P. and sweetgreen present
Phoenix, Passion Pit, Kendrick Lamar, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Gary Clark Jr, Solange, Lindsey Stirling, Holy Ghost!, Youth Lagoon, Haerts, Robert DeLong, Ms Mr, twenty | one | pilots
10475 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, Maryland, 21044
This event is all ages
By now, most people know what to expect from sweetgreen’s annual sweetlife festival, and that ain’t a bad thing at all. Over the years, the fest has slam-dunked so much insane talent (from all sorts of genres) and so many tasty eats into Merriweather that it’s more or less a no-brainer to just be there. This year’s lineup features The 1975 (who recently have gone down a totally irresistible pop wormhole), premier electropop songstress Halsey, and producer/remix master Flume, just to name a few. As far as the food goes, big names like José Andrés (ThinkFoodGroup), Spike Gjerde (Woodberry Kitchen), and Nick Wiseman (Little Sesame) will provide all sorts of unimaginably appetizing treasures. All in all, this year’s Sweetlife Festival is shaping up to be one of the best – use our presale to snag tickets, lest you get a sour taste in your mouth when they’re all gone.
Getting to Where We Belong: The Making of Passion Pit’s Gossamer
Hundreds of hipsters, college kids and music biz schmoozers gather under a massive white tent to see Passion Pit. It is an afternoon shindig hosted by the blog Brooklyn Vegan, at the 2009 South by Southwest festival. The sun is setting and it is a classic make-it-or-break-it moment for Passion Pit, who is headlining despite having just released a lone EP, Chunk of Change. The crowd is giddy on both free Izze fruit soda and the Boston band’s bubbly pop. Between songs, frontman Michael Angelakos runs his fingers and sweat through his thick, curly, Greek hair. He starts to rant—about a shirt he bought for his new girlfriend, about veganism, about inane blog comments. After a few awkward minutes, the music kicks back in. By the end of the performance, Michael is rolling on a red Persian rug amongst many, many keyboard and effects pedal cables, clutching his microphone, wailing in his signature helium falsetto. The audience cheers, the Tweeters tweet, the bloggers blog ecstatically.
Michael leaves the stage and begins crying. He has made it, and he has broken.
When the festival ends, the rest of the Passion Pit guys van back to Massachusetts. Michael stays behind in Texas. He calls a friend for support and begs her to come be with him. In a panic, he buys her a plane ticket. It is for the wrong year, 2010. He calls his parents in Buffalo, New York. “I’m going to a hospital,” he tells them.
Michael is standing with his father outside a hospital in Houston, looking at mock-ups of album artwork on his cellphone. Passion Pit has just signed to Columbia Records, and a debut album, Manners, is due in a couple months. The record cover is green and messy and murky. Michael is not crazy about it, but there is no time, as the hospital is about to take his phone away from him. “It looks fine, Michael,” his dad says. “Just go.”
In the hospital, Michael is not allowed to talk about work. “Up there, onstage, you’re alone, darling, ” a nurse tells him. “And if your life evolves into ruin, everyone will watch what you’re doing.” Michael thinks these would make good lyrics. His friends smuggle in positive reviews of Manners. When one magazine blesses the record with an 8 out of ten, he almost cries again.
“I’ll Be Alright”
This first sentence was not always the first. Originally, I was going to start with a simile: Michael Angelakos’ brain is like a shaken can of spray paint with no nozzle. Millions of particles of bright ideas bounce around in there. When inspiration punctures his head, art sprays out. Often, someone else must puncture the can, or smash it. Only, if you hold Michael’s bursting skull up to a canvas, you would not get a cloudy splatter of dripping bits. The paint would land perfectly in a detailed map of the knotty Tokyo subway system.
You can hear this “I’ll Be Alright,” the second song on Gossamer, in which a sudden seizure of skittering programmed drums swarms over diced synths. “My brain is racing and I feel like I’ll explode!” Michael sings amidst the orchestral glitch. He compares it to the sensation you feel after an orgasm.
Writing about creativity is like architecturing about dance. When I sat down to describe Michael’s thought process, a can of paint formed in my mind for whatever reason. After that, I thought no nozzle, because I like the alliteration. Then I tacked on a subject and verb. I start with a phrase, an image or a rhythm of words and construct around it. I’m not a beginning-to-end sentence builder. Michael asked me to write this piece because he intuited, correctly, that my writing is akin to his song crafting.
A spark of a Passion Pit song might be found in the fuzz of a guitar pedal. It might be a stumbled-upon drum loop, the tintinnabulation of layered chimes or some gibberish harmony he’s humming. It might be one of the 200 scratch melodies Michael has stored on his iPhone. Later, Michael might sit at a keyboard and work out a melody. “I do things backwards,” he admits, “and I’m a maximalist.” Indeed. The songs on Gossamer carry anywhere from 60 to 200 instrumental tracks, according to Michael. If you ask Alex Aldi, Michael’s engineer, the number 80 to 120. (The maximum output on their version of ProTools is 120 tracks.) Whatever, it’s a fuckton. But it’s important to talk to Alex.
When Alex and Michael set forth to record Gossamer in January of 2011, the two first rented a studio near the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood. Well, it was technically an office space. The new Passion Pit headquarters shared the building with digital media start-ups, dot.coms, that sort of thing, which were not appreciative of gut-rumbling bass bumps rattling the uninsulated walls.
“We’d blast these huge R. Kelly–like booms,” Michael says. “There would be fists pounding the walls,” Alex remembers.
The duo began working from 6PM to 6AM, partly to avoid pissing off the neighbors, partly because Michael is “really OCD about who’s hearing me” In the wee hours, Michael would toil at his array of keyboards, sequencers and computers.
The fruit of this first stage is the stunning slow jam “Constant Conversations.” It’s the kind of stank-faced, flesh-slapping R&B groove that makes a name like “Passion Pit” sound positively filthy. That is, until you pay attention to the lyrics. They are not nocturnal; they are dark. “I’m drunker than before / They told me drinking doesn’t make me nice,” Michael sings. “Well, you’re standing in the kitchen and you’re pouring out my drink.”
It’s important to pay attention to the lyrics.
“Slip-ups in this town are like a sentence to life.” –“Mirrored Sea” What makes Southern California’s orange sherbet sunsets so gorgeous? It’s the life-strangling smog. Toxic clouds can sometimes lead to beauty.
In June of 2011, Michael headed to L.A. to continue work on Gossamer with a variety of big name producers. One producer would bring in pretty girls to sit on a couch in the studio. He would play back tracks at top volume. If the girls got up and danced, it was a hit.
Michael slept in another studio beneath the control room, where he could hear some dude fucking people’s brains out all night. The walls were marble.
Michael slept where Fiona Apple once slept. Michael recorded in a fancy house outside of which photographers snapped model in lingerie. Michael worked with a prominent hip-hop producer. They tinkered with “Hideaway,” an upbeat tune set to a speech a nurse once gave him. Michael played the hip-hop producer his demo. “You don’t need anyone to produce you,” the producer humbly admitted. Michael flew back to Brooklyn, ending what he now calls his “June gloom.”
“Everyone let’s me make these mistakes,” Michael says.
“He plays music so loud in his headphones, I can hear everything he’s doing. When he’s working, he won’t get up to use the bathroom or to take a sip of water. Watching him is watching someone in their element, someone doing what they were born to do. But it can be a waiting game for him to get an idea. Then, bam, ninety minutes later there’s this amazing finished song. He does stuff on the fly. Michael thrives on that, the immediate pressure. Everyone else game-plans. The game-plan is in Michael’s head and he’s twenty steps ahead. Conveying that is difficult. It’s information overload.’” — engineer Alex Aldi
“It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy”
Aside from the sarcastic “Love Is Greed,” all the songs on Gossamer are one-hundred-percent true. I know this because I’ve compared the lyric sheet to a 3,672 word life story Michael emailed me. It begins, “A main talking point seems to be about the fact that there is a dichotomy in my music.” It ends with, “The next day I quit drinking.” I read it one evening while listening to “It’s Not My Fault I’m Happy” repeatedly as tears welled in my eyes.
Unlike some songwriters, Michael does not write in character. He compares the album to a collection of John Cheever stories. “It’s non-fiction, but dramatized. It’s euphoric pain,” he tells me.
The record is more intimate than that. Listening and reading along, I feel as if I am reading his chart. I am eavesdropping. I am putting him inside one of the TSA’s full-body millimeter wave scanners.
Ah, I think, “Take A Walk” must be about his father and his father’s father, his Papou, who sold old roses and owned a candy kitchen, using his savings to bring his village to America.
Hearing the celestas and xylophones skittering about the opening of “Love Is Greed,” I envision bolts of blue electricity flashing across Michael’s grey matter. The systolic, panicked pulse of “Mirrored Sea” is awash in adrenaline and amphetamine salts. The pomp and silver twinkle of “On My Way” is confetti for a forthcoming wedding.
“Are you sure you want to be this open,” Alex asked when he first heard the lyrics.
“This music is so on point with myself, I don’t know that I could do it any other way,” Michael replied.
Yes, Michael’s music juxtaposes dark subject matter and ebullient pop. It is at once escape and reality. It is also consciously androgynous. In the past, this was suitably captured with Michael’s falsetto. Now the unisexuality is enhanced by Erato, a female Swedish a cappella trio, two brunettes and one blonde, who went viral with a performance of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” on empty yogurt cups. Michael likes the idea of us not being able to discern if he or they are singing in certain parts. This is not duality or dichotomy. This is depth and honesty. Human beings are emotional, messy and murky creatures.
“On My Way”
It is a misconception that Manners was written for a girl. It was a record about Michael. Gossamer was written for a couple. “It’s an album about making an album that’s straining the relationship that’s helping you make that album. But say it better than that,” he tells me.
Kristy is an editor for a prominent food website. Her face appears throughout the Gossamer artwork. The back cover is a letter Michael wrote to her. He proposes to her in the chorus of “On My Way.” Originally the tune was called “Ballerina.”
“Just believe in me Kristina,” he sings. “All these demons, I can beat ’em.”
“Where We Belong”
Upon returning to Brooklyn from California, Michael reconnected with producer Chris Zane, who helmed Manners. Here is a sporting analogy, hockey specifically, according to Michael:
“Chris is the general manager and Alex is the coach. Without Chris I wouldn’t have been able to do this record. Without Alex I wouldn’t have been able to do anything.”
Alex is ten years Michael’s senior, Chris a little older. Michaels refers to them as his older brother and his older, older brother. The trio hunkered down in Gigantic Studios and started over on Gossamer as a mild winter fell upon New York. Michael admits he will often redo songs “like thirteen times. It’s one of my worst habits.” Manners was largely built on three keyboards. There was a conscious effort this time to avoid the same process, to use more organic ingredients. Composer Nico Muhly dropped in, dueling pianos with Michael on “Love Is Greed” and arranging strings. That being said, there were still dozens of keyboards, walls of keyboards, “some Herbie Hancock shit.” Yamahas, Moogs, Arps, MS-20s, SH-101s, Junos, Prophets, a Japanese piano. They flipped over a couch in the control room to stuff in even more keyboards. Ask Michael to explain the differences between these many keyboards and he synesthetically describes it by texture: “One is felt, one is 100% cotton, one is tweed…” Alex would watch and listen in a busted La-Z-Boy recliner permanently stuck in the recumbent position.
“I did a calculation of the time I spent on this record. It was 4% of my life,” Alex tells me. He has recently heard the finished record. We chat about the sequence of the songs and debate the decision to cut a string section that originally opened the album. “It dawned on me this morning” he says. “After having a best friend for thirteen months, Michael is gone. I’m like, what the fuck do I do now?”
When I hang up, I must immediately play Gossamer again.
Growing up in the merciless city that is Compton, California, it wasn't long before 23 year-old Kendrick Lamar, formerly known as K. Dot, would become acquainted with the harsh realities of the world. Sheltered by no means, the emcee was exposed to a lifestyle commonly adopted in the inner city. However, this exposure didn't influence his character in a way that on-lookers would expect. WIth the w...isdom from his father, Kendrick had a balance in his life that many of his childhood peers were missing. It is this balance that is responsible for his untold story of "Good Kid, Mad City," the life of young black males trying to escape the influences of Compton. During his upbringing, Kendrick was constantly surrounded by an eclectic range of music. Lending his ear to R&B masters such as the Isley Brothers as well as Hip-Hop legends like Tha Dogg Pound, which helped prepare him for the opportunities that would one day arise in the music industry. At age 16 Kendrick released his first mixtape Y.H.N.I.C., creating a buzz in his hometown and garnering the attention of TopDawg Entertainment's CEO. From then on, Kendrick worked to perfect his skill under TopDawg, releasing four new projects in a five year span; Training Day, No Sleep Till NYC, The Kendrick Lamar EP and his most recent project The Kendrick Lamar OD which received praise from some of the most respected online music sources. Additionally, he has released multiple tracks under the group name Black Hippy with fellow TopDawg counterparts Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul. Through these efforts Kendrick was able to showcase to the world his unparalleled ability and humorous word play. Kendrick's handwork and unmatched talent has allowed him to work with a wide range of respected music vets such as The Game, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Little Brother, Jay Rock, DJ Quik, Scott Storch and Cool & Dre. He is currently working on his debut album, and alongside legendary producer Dr. Dre on his highly anticipated upcoming release Detox.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Gary Clark Jr
Rarely does an artist explode onto the music scene with the force and impact of a comet. But when it does happen — as it did when 26-year-old singer-guitarist Gary Clark Jr. delivered an incendiary debut performance of his song “Bright Lights” at Eric Clapton's 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival last June — the result is magical. Funky, hip, and badass, Gary Clark Jr. is a rocking soul man for a new generation.
Weaned on John Lee Hooker, Lightnin Hopkins, and T-Bone Walker, Clark fuses his deep blues influence with a love of classic hip-hop and contemporary soul. His voice weaves between a melodic lilt and a seasoned blues howl with his guitar licks dancing and dodging between and behind the beat as if the essence of Snoop and Dre loom in his head by way of the Mississippi Delta. The virtuosity Clark displays, and the tone he rings from his cherry-red Epiphone Casino guitar, put most modern rock shredders to shame.
Born and raised in Austin, TX, Clark began playing guitar at age 12. He performed small gigs throughout his early teens before popping up on the radar of legendary promoter Clifford Antone, owner of Austin blues club Antone's. Through Clifford's connections, Clark was soon sitting in with and learning from an array of musical icons, including Jimmie Vaughan. Vaughan, and others in the Austin music community, mentored Clark along his path, facilitating his steady rise on the Texas music scene. His peers have showered him with acclaim for his galvanizing live performances. In 2001, Austin’s mayor, Kirk Watson, declared May 3rd to be “Gary Clark Jr. Day.” Clark was 17 years old.
Clark went on to win the Austin Music Award for Best Blues and Electric Guitarist on three separate occasions, in addition to receiving awards from various blues magazines and associations around the country. After playing the nationally televised show Austin City Limits and touring with such artists as Jimmie Vaughan, Pinetop Perkins, and Doyle Bramhall II, Clark released two self-produced albums, and composed the original score for the film Full Count. Clark’s creative versatility and love for not just blues, but also soul, hip-hop, classic rock, and jam bands, has allowed him to transcend his own musical talents. He starred alongside Danny Glover and Stacy Keach in John Sayles’ 2007 film Honeydripper.
In 2010, Clark was the only young newcomer to be selected by Eric Clapton to perform at the Crossroads Guitar Festival, where he performed with Doyle Bramhall II and Sheryl Crow. A DVD of the show, released last November, led to Clark’s signing with Warner Bros. Records for whom he is currently working on his major-label debut album. Clark’s singular talent has also attracted a bevy of artist support, including accolades from Sheryl Crow, Citizen Cope, Damian Marley, Ron Wood, and Questlove. As the latter recently Tweeted after witnessing a December performance at New York’s Brooklyn Bowl: “I don’t think y’all understand the greatness that is in front of you. Gary Clark Jr. is kickin’ ass and takin’ names.”
YouTube sensation Lindsey Stirling is perhaps the first – and only – artist in the world to blend classical violin, modern dance, and…The Legend of Zelda?!
On September 19th, Lindsey will be releasing her self-titled debut album, Lindsey Stirling, coming off the heels of an incredibly successful presence on iTunes. Comprised of 10 original tracks, the album will showcase Lindsey's signature violin-electronic-dubstep style – opening with "Crystallize," her most popular piece. Lindsey has already sold over 300,000 songs, several of which have hit the iTunes Top 100 as well as the top of the digital electronic charts. Lindsey also has plans for a follow-up album of covers, putting her unique twist on everything from existing video game themes to pop music.
"My musical style is a reflection of my personality," Lindsey shares, "and through it I hope to share my belief that no one should be afraid to be themselves." She adds "All my songs were created to depict specific themes that I pulled from my own life experiences. 'Spontaneous Me' is about having the courage to love yourself for who you are."
"'Crystallize,' on the other hand, is a much deeper song: the crystallization of water is affected by its surroundings to create either beautiful patterns or meaningless masses. Similarly, I believe that through our thoughts, beliefs and the environments we create, we each possess the power to make a positive change within ourselves and others."
Adds Lindsey, "'Transcendence' was one of the first songs I ever wrote and it to depict my own triumph over some significant trials I have faced. I feel that the lack of lyric-driven content makes my music powerful. I have put my own personal experiences into each track, but it's for the listener to decide what the music means to them."
Lindsey composes, choreographs, and directs all of her original music and videos -- merging unique violin stylings and electronic dub-step beats with animated contemporary dance. Her wide array of videos are all available on her Lindseystomp YouTube channel, which rings in at more than 640,000 subscribers -- and has tallied over 102 million hits. (Viewership is enthusiastic: the ice-themed "Crystallize" at 22 million; her snow-scaped "Skyrim" at 8.6 million; and the silhouette-performing "Shadows" at 7.5 million.)
Between her YouTube Channel, social media outlets, and strong word-of-mouth buzz, Lindsey has gained legions of fans worldwide. She appeared as a finalist on "America's Got Talent," performed more recently at video game convention E3, and has played globally in such places as London, Italy, and Kenya. Lindsey's first headlining performance at historic Webster Hall in New York City sold out in a matter of days. With her unique classical takes on such video franchise themes as "The Legend of Zelda" and "Skyrim", Lindsey has also endeared herself to masses of gamers, who are among her most avid fans. She now looks forward to her upcoming 2012 US tour this fall which will bring her talents to 24 of the largest entertainment centers of the country – from Los Angeles and San Francisco, to Chicago, New York and Washington D.C.
A classically-trained violinist, Lindsey's love for music began with free community concerts and the sounds of Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Mozart played daily in her home on an old record player. At age five she begged her parents for violin lessons. After a year of her incessant pleading, Lindsey's mom found a teacher she could afford who would give her daughter 15-minute lessons every other week. She hoped that young Lindsey – now six – wouldn't grow bored. She never did, and has played ever since.
Young Lindsey's passion for the violin was matched only by her love of dancing. Having to choose violin rather than dance lessons, Lindsey decided to train for the latter in a more unconventional way: YouTube videos. She studied footwork, practiced moves and techniques, and even taught herself to Moonwalk, becoming the world's first unofficial YouTube-trained dancer.
After moving from Santa Ana, CA to Gilbert, AZ at age eight, Lindsey continued to practice violin and dance – in unique ways. At age 16 she joined a pop-punk rock band called Stomp on Melvin to experiment with different styles of music. As a graduating senior, to earn money for college, she entered the "America's Junior Miss Pageant" (now named "Distinguished Young Women"), the nation's largest and oldest scholarship program for high school girls. In a competition filled with evening gowns and elegant poses, Lindsey performed violin rock songs with spiky hair, high socks, and a style all her own. When the cheering was over, Lindsey had won the Gilbert and Arizona pageants and the talent portion of the city, state and national competitions-- instantly becoming an outside-the-box role model for young girls with her message of non-conformity in art and music.
In 2007, Lindsey decided that she wanted to be a guest on "Ellen," the hit daytime talk show hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. To get the attention of the show's producers, she wrote violin parts to the Black-eyed Peas, incorporated dance, and recorded her first video for YouTube. The video didn't result in a guest appearance -- but did go viral online, garnering hundreds of thousands of views and a huge following of fans around the world. Soon, "America's Got Talent" came calling, followed by an incredible You Tube career, and live performances spanning the globe – all a testament to Lindsey Stirling's dazzling blend of violin, dance, and sprite-like personality. "But," she explains, "my goal is still to get on 'Ellen!"
"Friends since attending elementary school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser were members of Automato, a rap group whose last releases, including a self-titled album released in 2003, were produced by the DFA's James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy. After Automato dissolved, Murphy and Goldsworthy encouraged Frankel and Millhiser to continue pushing toward dance music. Push they did; Frankel and Millhiser co-produced the warm and melodic "Hold On" with the DFA -- settling on the Bar-Kays-referencing Holy Ghost! just prior to the vinyl pressing stage -- and released it on the DFA label in October 2007. "I Will Come Back," their second single, didn't come out until 2009 but made an impact with its video -- a remake of the indelible clip for New Order's "Confusion," a snapshot of New York's clubbing scene (with producer Arthur Baker reprising his role). The four-track Static on the Wire EP followed in 2010, continuing the duo's uncanny ability to evoke the colorful, layered sound of early- to mid-'80s club music. In 2011, Holy Ghost! released a self-titled album that included some of their previously released songs, as well as a guest appearance from the Michael McDonald on the closing "Some Children." By that point, Holy Ghost! had also become one of the more prolific remix teams; they had re-worked (in some cases technically covering) tracks by MGMT, Moby, Cut Copy, Phoenix, the Juan Maclean, and Murphy's LCD Soundsystem." - AllMusicGuide
Youth Lagoon is the musical project of Trevor Powers. Born in San Diego, CA and later moving to Boise, ID, Powers began writing a set of songs while studying English at the local university. Released in 2011 on Fat Possum Records, "The Year of Hibernation" is a collection of songs that were primarily influenced by chronic anxiety. "I don't think I could ever write a completely happy album," says Powers. "It's not that I'm not a happy person, but I have too many things in my mind that haunt me."
HAERTS is a band from New York hailing from Germany, England, and the United States. The group consists of Nini Fabi, Ben Gebert, Garrett Ienner, Derek McWilliams, and Jonathan Schmidt. The band's first single, Wings, was produced in collaboration with Jean-Philip Grobler (aka St. Lucia). HAERTS' debut album is due in 2013.
Robert DeLong is the perfect artist to bring electronic dance music to Glassnote, home of Mumford & Sons, Two Door Cinema Club, Phoenix and more. A one-man futuristic dance party with beats as cerebral as Orbital and club-ready as Calvin Harris, DeLong is also a profoundly gifted singer/songwriter who raises questions about identity and spirituality. Those two elements join together on his debut album Just Movement, a dazzling collection of dance beats, pop hooks and thought-provoking queries that could very well be the soundtrack for 2013.
"The whole album is sort of a thesis statement for my philosophy," the 26-year-old Los Angeleno via Seattle who wrote, produced, mixed and performed the entire album himself, says. What is that philosophy? "The first song ['Just Movement'] is the most basic kind of thesis statement. For me, when you strip away all the human moral elements of a person you're left with the fact everything is just moving, the whole universe is vibrating different ways, moving around," he says. "Then the rest of the album is trying to figure out what to do with that and it's kind of a play on words too. 'Just Movement' is not only about the philosophical idea, but also 'Just Movement,' the idea of dance, that's kind of the primal response to music."
On the album's second track, "Global Concepts," a song that immediately shot to number one most requested at Albany's WEXQ, DeLong asks, "Did I leave my life to chance? Or did I make you fucking dance?"
The answer is unquestionably the latter, proven here repeatedly, whether it's on the fast-paced funk of "Here," the disco-flavor of "Perfect" or the aptly named "Happy " -- another instant radio favorite, landing in the top five most requested songs on the Locals Only show of influential L.A. radio station KROQ.
That DeLong brings people to their feet is especially true live, where his unique stage setup ratchets up the energy to a level befitting productions the size of Electric Daisy Carnival or Coachella's Sahara Tent. A true one-man band who sings, plays a full drum set and controls his loops via video game controls like Wii-motes, joysticks and game controllers, DeLong creates a spectacle that is wholly his own.
Adding to the vibe, every show features face painting for audience members, creating a communal experience. DeLong has already dubbed his growing fanbase The Tribe of the Orphans, an apt name for the visual extravaganza the audience provides for every show with their Neverland imagery. While the face painting, usually done by DeLong's girlfriend, enhances the bond between DeLong and his Tribe, the standout visual at the gigs is his one-of-a-kind equipment.
"That really just came out of playing in bands for so long and going to shows and being bored it's just standing around, watching a band," he says of the genesis of the setup. "The live show developed in a way out of necessity. It started out with me playing a couple of coffee shops in high school doing some live looping and combining it with tracks and stuff and then over time seeing what people responded to."
A drummer from the age of 10 who started off in jazz, Robert DeLong understood his background was the crux of the dance music he'd come to love at house music parties in L.A. "I realized I'm making dance music and drums are kind of the lead instrument in dance music. So I really wanted to incorporate that," he says. "From there [with] the Wii-mote it was just trying to find a way that was most interesting to use it. It's funny because I sort of performed these songs before I finalized the recordings on the songs. On a lot of these songs, things like the Wii-mote ended up as an element on the album."
When DeLong brings his music to the stage there is no gimmickry or flashiness, every instrument serves the purpose of the song and becomes an essential component to making the song flow. For him it was important that the video game components not become a stunt. "In the end it's still about the song," he says. "I've seen a lot of artists where, especially with live looping or beat making, that stuff just ends up being these guys figuring out cool things they can do, but there's no song for anyone to attach themselves to."
There's no concern for DeLong about not having the songs to accompany his music. He started off as a singer/songwriter playing in bands. The electronic dance element came later, after moving from Seattle to L.A. but he made sure to keep both. How many other artists claim Sgt. Pepper's and Board Of Canada's Music Has The Right To Children as two of the defining works in their upbringing? Probably not many, but that mix is what makes DeLong special and has already allowed him to build a diverse following.
"I would hear from people, especially my age, they identify with the lyric and the songwriter aspect. And younger people identify with the whole dance vibe," he says. "That's something I've always strived for, to make the message easily communicable to people, but then people can still have a good time and enjoy the party."
Edward Scissorhands. The board game Operation. Sonic Youth. Claudia Schiffer? Plastic monkeys! These are among the pop-culture artifacts that appear in the epilepsy-inducing slideshow video for “Hurricane,” the first single from MS MR. Until recently shrouded in anonymity, the atmospheric indie-pop duo from New York City has proven universally intriguing, earning breathless attention from Pitchfork, Forbes, and Perez Hilton alike.
In the trip-hoppy “Hurricane,” smoky-voiced Lizzy Plapinger sings, “Welcome to the inner workings of my mind/So dark and foul I can’t disguise,” while a push-and-pull of echoey strings and staccato percussion (courtesy of the producer stylings of Ms Mr other half Max Hershenow) envelop her voice. Technically, the song, which hit No. 1 on Hype Machine, is about Hurricane Irene, which careened towards Gotham last year. The video? Not so much.
“I see something different every time I watch it,” concedes Max. “The video is sort of a cross section of the images we've collected on Tumblr, which we essentially use as an ongoing mood board.” If there’s one philosophy driving MS MR (pronounced “miss mister”) —dabblers in chaos theory who’re as goofy as they are thoughtful—it’s media-theorist Marshall McLuhan’s famous observation that the medium is the message. MS MR are so committed to that sentiment they handpicked each “Hurricane” image themselves.
“We’re interested in exploring the nature of mixed media and collage,” says Lizzy, “and how music transcends all these various platforms.” Chief among them: MS MR’s lively—if thoroughly mystifying—Tumblr page, which they unprecedentedly used to debut their second EP, the critically acclaimed Candy Bar Creep Show, song-by-song. (Their first release, Ghost City USA, was a self-released collection of demos.)
The EP, which sets the foundation for MS MR’s still-untitled album (out early next spring), references everything from ’80s to’90s pop, doo-wop to country. That kitchen-sink aesthetic won the attention of vintage-sound wiz Tom Elmhirst (Adele, Amy Winehouse), who mixed and did some additional production on it at the legendary Electric Lady Studios. “Tom helped us more fully realize the album as we imagined it” says Max. “He responds to music more emotionally and viscerally than anyone I’ve ever met. It was the perfect match.”
The aural Jenga that is MS MR was born of Lizzy and Max’s vast inspirations. “We both listen to a lot of different music from all different genres and time periods,” says Max. “So we like to approach each song as its own project and experiment with combining unexpected elements.”
It’s a stroke of serendipity that Lizzy and Max are even making music together. They may giggle uncontrollably and complete each other’s thoughts, but these Vassar alums never really knew each other during college. Lizzy was a media-studies major, releasing records under her burgeoning imprint Neon Gold. (She’s gone on to release records by artists such as Passion Pit and Ellie Goulding.) Max was an urban-studies major with a concentration in modern dance, and started composing music for his choreographies. They met fleetingly through friends. But really connected after they graduated, when Lizzy needed an unbiased sounding board for her secret project, and Max was looking for new artists to collaborate with.
“There was sort of an element of Internet dating to it,” Max says, laughing. “Throw caution to the wind! Send someone an email, hope for the best.” He liked what he heard, which only terrified Lizzy more. “I was nervous because I had never sung in front of anyone before, so when he told me he was interested I actually put it off for a few months.”
They finally connected three months later in December 2010. To find their footing as collaborators, they recorded a sweeping cover of Patrick Wolf’s “Time of My Life” in Max’s closet-turned-studio. Curious to see where else the music could take them, they decided to give it another go and try their hand at some original material. This led to the swelling, mercurial tune we know now as “Bones." "It's quite a personal song and definitely set a tone for the band," says Lizzy. “In person, we're quite upbeat and bubbly, but the music is a much more honest space and outlet for us."
Only now, it’s become public. MS MR finally unveiled their live personae in March with a rocked-out gig at Brooklyn’s respected Glasslands Gallery. "I think people maybe expected two people on stage with a laptop, but we were adamant from the beginning that we would never do that!" says Lizzy. "We wanted the live show to do the recoded tracks justice," continues Max, "so we perform as a band to give it the lushness and energy we aim for while recording." Since their Glasslands show, they’ve moved on to bigger venues while touring with Marina and the Diamonds, an outing they affectionately refer to as their "training-wheels tour.”
“Really,” continues Max, “this whole experience has been about discovering undiscovered parts of ourselves."
twenty | one | pilots
In its purest form music acts as a conduit of self-expression that's free from the
conventions of society and that spirit of fearlessness lies at the core of twenty | one |
pilots, a group whose musical vision is completely their own. Over the past few years
the duo of frontman Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun have built a hardcore
following that seems primed to reach a fever pitch with the release of their Fueled By
Ramen debut Vessel.
"The first song I ever played on the piano was my own. I never took any lessons,"
Joseph responds when asked about his musical background. "I looked at the piano and
realized that music was a way of being able to say something; the phrase I always use
is that 'music is a vessel' and that's where the album title comes from." Before long
Joseph was writing and recording his own demos in his basement and twenty | one |
pilots was born.
The Columbus, Ohio-based band started out like most acts but instead of aimlessly
touring they concentrated on their hometown base and before long they were selling out
huge local venues like Newport Music Hall despite the fact they only had two self-
recorded releases available. "Every show we play our hearts out because where we
come from you have to grab people's attention and make sure that they never forget
you," Joseph says. "In our case we were able to build up a fanbase - one that walked
with us to grab the attention of the music industry outside of our hometown eventually
opening up the doors that have led to so many opportunities to take our music around
the world on what is an amazing journey".
The duo's ability to build up this local base was confirmed when the band sold out the
2,300-capacity LC Pavilion last April to announce that they were signing to Fueled By
Ramen, after being courted by over a dozen labels. That's right, there was no fancy
marketing or gimmickry that lead to twenty | one | pilots' rise, it was based solely on the
organic relationship they cultivated with their fans via their music, live performances and
online content. "To our fans we say we never got our big break, you created our big
break. Thank you," Joseph says.
$75.00 - $150.00
General Admission Lawn gets you: a spot on the lawn
General Admission Pavilion gets you: open pavilion seating and Pit Access
VIP ticket will get you: viewing areas, covered cabana lounges and seating,special food and drink offerings curated by Rogue24's RJ Cooper and Toki Underground's Erik Bruner-Yang. Complimentary sweetgreen salad tasting and free filtered water.
Merriweather Post Pavilion
Fri, June 30
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Sat, July 15