Sweetlife Food and Music Festival
The Strokes, Girl Talk, At Merriweather Post Pavilion - LUPE FIASCO, Crystal Castles, Cold War Kids, Ra Ra Riot, Theophilus London, Walk The Moon, U.S. Royalty, Modern Man
10475 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, MD, 21044
Sweetlife Food and Music Festival
With spring right around the corner, it’s time once again to enjoy some delectable treats courtesy of the Sweetlife Music and Food Festival. Presented by the restaurant group sweetgreen, the event will not only feature electrifying sounds led by artists Avicii, Kid Cudi, and The Shins; the festival will also showcase a slew of delicious, healthy and organic foods on site. That's one awesome celebration of thoughtful living and refreshingly cool music.
Equally inspired by classic tunesmiths like Buddy Holly and John Lennon as well as the attitude and angular riffs of fellow New Yorkers Television and the Velvet Underground, the Strokes were also equally blessed and cursed with an enormous amount of hype -- particularly from the U.K. music press, whose adulation for the group rivaled their fervor for Oasis in the early '90s. Barely in their twenties by the time their debut album Is This It? arrived in 2001, singer/songwriter Julian Casablancas, guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr., bassist Nikolai Fraiture, and drummer Fabrizio Moretti's success wasn't quite of the overnight variety, but it still arrived pretty swiftly. Casablancas (the son of Elite modeling agency kingpin John Casablancas), Moretti (who began playing drums at age five), and Valensi started playing together in 1998 while they attended Manhattan's private prep school Dwight School. Soon after they met Fraiture, who attended the Upper East Side's Le Cest Francais, and added him to their ranks. Hammond (the son of singer/songwriter Albert Hammond, whose songs include "It Never Rains in Southern California," "When I Need You," and "To All the Girls I've Loved Before") came from Los Angeles to attend film school at N.Y.U. and was invited into the band by Casablancas; the two met at L'Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland when they were kids. Casablancas officially christened the quintet the Strokes in 1999, and the group spent most of that year writing and rehearsing material in New York City's Music Building. They made their live debut that fall at the Spiral, and word of mouth about the Strokes' incendiary live show propelled them to gigs at venues like Under the Acme, Lower East Side clubs such as Arlene Grocery, Baby Jupiter, and N.Y.C.'s Luna. The band's December 2000 dates at the Mercury Lounge and the Bowery Ballroom not only gained them a manager (Ryan Gentles, who booked them at those clubs), but also helped Strokes-mania reach critical mass in New York. Rough Trade released the group's three-song demo as The Modern Age EP in January 2001, which sparked a bidding war from which RCA emerged as the victors. Meanwhile, the Strokes' acclaim reached the U.K. and grew to massive proportions over the course of the year. NME quickly championed the band, profiling them several times that spring and summer as the Strokes' live act and singles like Hard to Explain (which debuted at number 16 in the U.K. charts) won them a rabid British following. That spring, the band also completed their first U.S. tour as the opening act for the Doves and proceeded to play dates with Guided By Voices and And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead in the U.S. and the U.K. The group's popularity continued to snowball in the U.K., with a side stage slot at the NME Carling Weekender changed to a main stage performance for fear of people trampling each other to see the band. In late summer of that year, Rough Trade released Is This It? with an album cover featuring a sexy, Helmut Newton-esque photo of a woman's nude behind and hip with a leather-gloved hand resting on it; the U.K. chains Woolworth's and HMV objected to its controversial nature. The U.S. version of Is This It? was released in October and featured a few changes from the U.K. edition. The Strokes opted for an abstract pattern on the cover and removed the song "NYC Cops," feeling the song was inappropriate in the wake of the terrorist attacks that struck New York prior to the album's release; the planned B-side "When It Started" took its place. The group closed out the fall with an extended tour of the U.S., culminating with a Halloween gig at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom. The remainder of 2001 and 2002 saw the group's profile continue to rise. Is This It? and the Strokes were lauded in many ways, ranging from This Isn't It, an EP of instrumental versions of some of the album's songs performed by a mystery band called the Diff'rent Strokes (Pulp's Jarvis Cocker was rumored to be a member) to 2001 NME Carling Awards for Best New Act , Band of the Year and Album of the Year. The band toured extensively throughout 2002, including a series of dates that summer in New York and Detroit with the White Stripes, the summer festivals at Reading and Leeds and a string of gigs supporting Weezer, some of which were canceled due to a leg injury Casablancas suffered. During these shows, their fall tour and their dates opening for the Rolling Stones, the Strokes debuted some new songs, including "Meet Me in the Bathroom," "You Talk Way Too Much" and "The Way It Is." By March 2003, the band was ready to start recording their new album, but instead of working with Is This It? producer Gordon Raphael as previously reported, the Strokes began recording with Nigel Godrich of Radiohead and Beck fame. That May, however, the band's sessions with Godrich came to an end, and they returned to Raphael to finish the album, Room on Fire. The single 12:51 introduced the more meticulous, new wave-inspired sound Room on Fire, which arrived in fall 2003. Just before the album's release, the Strokes hit the road once again, taking Kings of Leon with them. ~ Heather Phares, All Music Guide
Celebrating 10-plus years of sample-obsessed production and relentless touring, Gregg Gillis returns with All Day, his fifth album as Girl Talk, and his most epic, densely layered, and meticulously composed musical statement to date. Continuing the saga from the previously acclaimed albums, Night Ripper and Feed The Animals, Gillis lays down a more diverse range of samples to unfold a larger dynamic between slower transitions and extreme cut-ups. With the grand intent of creating the most insane and complex “pop collage” album ever heard, large catalogs of both blatantly appropriated melodies and blasts of unrecognizable fragments were assembled for the ultimate Girl Talk record (clocking in at 71 minutes and 372 samples).
Since the release of Feed The Animals, things have flourished for Girl Talk. He’s played almost 300 shows and hardly taken a full week off from hitting the road. He’s playing even larger venues and making even more of a spectacle—he’s employed a small crew of toilet paper launching stage hands, who also propel confetti, balloons, and inflate oddly chosen props into the audience. For the New Year’s Eve show to ring in 2010, a team was hired to build a life-size house, with attention to fine details, on the stage at Chicago’s Congress Theatre. Described as the craziest house party ever, Girl Talk continues to please live audiences as the mass of sweaty bodies at his shows continually grows. Touring highlights from the last couple of years include the Vancouver Olympics, large festivals such as Coachella, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, V-Fest, Sasquatch, Rothbury, Monolith, Planeta Terra, and trips to Australia, Japan, South America, Europe, and Mexico.
Earlier this year, Girl Talk finally took a break from touring, festival dates, and college shows, in order to create an album that is being released immediately after its completion. While posting the album as a free download on the Illegal Art label’s site allows All Day to reach his fanbase quickly and with minimal cost, Gillis spent more time on this album than any previous release and considers it the most fully realized and evolved manifestation of the Girl Talk aesthetic.
At Merriweather Post Pavilion - LUPE FIASCO
On March 8th, critically acclaimed rapper Lupe Fiasco returns with one of the most heavily anticipated releases in recent years, a revolutionary album called LASERS, reaching new heights of lyrical and musical mastery, while aiming to reach even bigger audiences.
The album has already spawned an exuberant hit single, “The Show Goes On,” which re-introduced Fiasco to fans after a four-year absence. It will undoubtedly continue to earn attention over the next year and beyond with mind-expanding and ear-catching singles like the incendiary “Words I Never Said” featuring Skylar Grey and produced by Alex Da Kid (Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie”), the thought-provoking “All Black Everything,” and “Out of My Head,” a collaboration with labelmate Trey Songz.
LASERS is an acronym for “Love Always Shines Everytime: Remember to Smile,” and the album is a reflection of a 14-point manifesto the Chicago-born MC composed to guide him on the project, including items like “We want substance in the place of popularity” and “We will not compromise who we are to be accepted by the crowd.”
“I want to start a popular uprising,” says Fiasco. “The music is the bait to get people to come in and listen to what I’m saying.”
LASERS features some of the most thought-provoking rhymes and concepts Fiasco has ever conceived, combined with irresistible melodies, production by the likes of Jerry Wonder and The Neptunes, as well as collaborations with John Legend, Trey Songz, and others.
The album is filled with unvarnished truth, straight from the mind of the hyper-literate Muslim MC, who grew up in the projects, but read books constantly and learned martial arts from the age of three. The son of a Black Panther, his family didn’t have cable TV, but did have a subscription to National Geographic.
On the bombastic “Words I Never Said,” the MC unloads his frustration with the media and politics, calling right-wing pundits Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck racists, and even taking aim at fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama, emphasizing that he did not vote for him. Another track, “State Run Radio,” takes aim at the hyper-regulated, repetitive radio industry—don’t hold your breath waiting to hear it on your local station, but it’s sure to become a viral hit.
If those songs are grounded in modern reality, “All Black Everything” takes a fanciful look at the past, asking, What if black people got paid for slavery?
“I just started thinking, ‘What if things had gotten off on a totally different foot?,’” says Fiasco. “What if they just came over to Africa and said, ‘We want you guys to work for us.’”
Of course, not every song on LASERS is a political discourse or a historical construct. Some of them can be described as standard hit records. “Never Forget You,” with John Legend, is a soulful love song produced by Jerry Wonder. “Out of My Head,” with labelmate Trey Songz is a smooth synth-driven R&B cut.
On his first two albums, Food & Liquor (2006), and The Cool (2007), Lupe Fiasco earned his reputation as a rap philosopher, a sharp, dynamic lyricist, and an MC who could shock you, make you think, make you dance, and make you laugh, all without resorting to vulgarity or tired hip-hop alliterations.
Lupe Fiasco burst onto the scene in 2006 with “Kick, Push,” a single that sounded like nothing else in mainstream hip-hop and instantly heralded the arrival of a unique voice. Over breezy horn samples, Fiasco used skateboarding as a metaphor for overcoming struggles in life and love ("He said, 'I would marry you/But I'm engaged to these aerials and varials/And I don't think this board is strong enough to carry two'").
Food & Liquor would go on to reach No. 8 on the Billboard 200, spawn subsequent singles “I Gotcha” and “Daydreamin’,” featuring Jill Scott, and end the year with multiple Grammy nominations.
A year later, The Cool reached even greater heights selling over 500,000 copies and spawning the top-ten hit “Superstar,” featuring Matthew Santos. It’s been four years since The Cool—a long wait during which Fiasco squabbled with his label, endured some personal turmoil, and debated whether or not he even wanted to release another album.
“I kept asking, ‘What’s the point? What does all this lead up to?’” he recalls. Ultimately, he says, touring, meeting fans, and being able to do things for his family reminded him of why he wanted to make music in the first place. “You keep smiling, you keep looking for that happiness,” says Fiasco.
During the downtime, Fiasco’s dedicated fans grew restless. More than 32,000 signed a petition demanding that Atlantic Records release LASERS, an effort that was covered by CNN and Rolling Stone, among others. Then, on October 15, 2010, several hundred gathered in front of the Atlantic offices in New York City to demand they release the album. The fans called the day “Fiasco Friday.”
“That blew me away,” says Fiasco, “that so many people would come from all over the country, miss school, miss work, put themselves on the line to do that. It really touched me.”
LASERS is a superior collection from top to bottom. It’s an album with a mission, summed up in the conclusion to Lupe Fiasco’s manifesto:
“Lasers are shining beams of light that burn through the darkness of ignorance. Lasers shed light on injustice and inequality. Lasers act and shape their own destinies. Lasers find meaning and direction in the mysteries all around them. Lasers stand for love and compassion. Lasers stand for peace. Lasers stand for progression. Lasers are revolutionary. Lasers are the future. We’re not losers… We are LASERS!!!”
Fusing low-res electronic noise and pop hooks so effortlessly that it can seem accidental, Crystal Castles began as producer/multi-instrumentalist Ethan Kath's solo project in late 2003. Kath got the moniker from the name of She-Ra's dwelling in the He-Man and Masters of the Universe cartoon series; it's also the name of a 1983 Atari video game, which is oddly appropriate, considering that one component of the band's distinctive sound comes from a keyboard modified with an Atari 5200 sound chip. When Kath collaborated with singer Alice Glass on some songs in spring 2005, Crystal Castles' lineup was complete. One of the songs the pair recorded, "Alice Practice," was something of an accident: it was intended to be a demo of Glass testing out a microphone, but its presence on MySpace piqued record labels' interest. "Alice Practice" was released as a limited-edition 7" in summer 2006 on Merok Records, also home to Klaxons; its 500-copy run sold out in three days. The duo worked on their own songs and also honed their remixing skills, tweaking songs for Klaxons as well as GoodBooks, Uffie, Health, and Bloc Party. Tours with the Presets and Metric in 2007 set the stage for the release of Crystal Castles' self-titled debut album, which Last Gang released early in 2008. - Heather Phares, AllMusicGuide
Cold War Kids
Cold War Kids means International Blues. We began in August '04 with friends, jangly guitar, hand claps, and a Harmony amp in a storage room atop Mulberry Street restaurant in downtown Fullerton, CA. For the first practices, having instruments was secondary to
stomping and chanting; Clanging on heat pipes, thumping on plywood walls. Hollering into tape recorders. Slipping and swaying into alleyways and juke joints of yesteryear. Tapping in to the American dustbowl and British maritime. On the restaurants roof the sound and feeling was cultivated and burned, built and hallowed out, painted and stripped to the primer.
Almost three years have passed and we haven't let up since the starting gun fired. The album "Robbers & Cowards" was released in the US in October '06 on Downtown and the rest of the world in February '07 on V2. 'Why even have apartments?' We often ask ourselves as we have toured with the vim of a family reunion brawl across the US, UK, Europe, Australia and Japan.
Cold War Kids strive to make honest songs about human experience in orchards and hotel rooms, laundromats and churches, sea ports and school halls. We love the songs of Dylan, Nina Simone, and the Velvet Underground and make our own, which we like to think, are pretty original.
Ra Ra Riot
To observe Ra Ra Riot on stage is to observe a joyful experience in progress, somehow both intensely fun and just plain intense; it’s a joy that’s always aware that darkness and despair may be just around the corner, that life is both beautiful and terrible, and it’s a joy that is in fact amplified by this awareness. It’s this bittersweet dynamic that makes the rhumb line a compelling debut album by a band with seemingly limitless potential. From the haunting slowburn crescendos of opener ghost under rocks through the playful each year, can you tell and too too too fast, the more pensive oh, la and dying is fine, and a curveball cover of Kate Bush’s suspended in gaffa, the album skillfully melds elements of new wave and classic indie with sweeping orchestral chamber pop to startling effect. Epic and eloquent, dramatic and graceful, Ra Ra Riot’s debut is an inventive and ambitious record that consistently conveys the passions of its creators.
Theophilus London, who you might recognize as one of the fresh faces of Rocksmith. Theophilus is a talented rapper with versatility and a great flow. I got his mixtape, JAM!, which he is offering for free as a download off of his MySpace. The Mixtape is solid. MachineDrum’s skill at mashups is highlighted and the uptempo energy from both the lyrics and the beats make this a fresh jam for anyone who is enthusiastic about good hip-hop. I see a lot in this kid, and I think he’s a breath of fresh air for modern rap music. Boy we use the word “fresh” a lot.
Walk The Moon
"This Cincy-based crew formed in college over a mutual love of Talking Heads and twisted, inventive Pop. The resulting band reflects those two elements beautifully - WALK THE MOON makes fascinating, danceable Art Pop laced with vintage synth riffs... creative rhythms. ...The band's debut EP "The Anthem" earned WALK THE MOON some deserved notice outside of its local fanbase and helped the group earn a slot at a showcase concert in London (they were the only U.S. band chosen to perform). And the band's captivating live show has grown its fanbase thanks to regular tour dates in NYC and beyond. This fall's "i want! i want!" LP should rocket them even further."
-Mike Breen, CityBeat, September 2010
From the bluesy swagger of the album opener “Hollywood Hollows” to the soaring, Washington Irving inspired anthem “Equestrian,” it is evident that MIRRORS, the debut full length from U.S. Royalty, is an album of grand scope and range. It is a document of exploration and discovery. Songs kindle a spectrum of locales as the band laces a thread of longing and movement throughout the entire album to create a cinematic experience. MIRRORS is a cohesive and unified collection.
In March 2010, the band teamed up with engineer Gus Oberg (The Strokes, Albert Hammond Jr., Bloc Party) and Justin Long to begin recording the album. While in the studio, as a vision of the album began to come into focus, old songs were dropped in favor of new songs being written. The band recently released the first single off the album, “Equestrian,” and set a release date for the debut album, January 25th 2011.
U.S. Royalty formed in 2008 in Washington, D.C. Built around the lifelong musical collaboration of brothers John and Paul Thornley, vocals/piano and guitar, respectively, and rounded out by Jacob Michael (bass), and Luke Adams (drums), the group has refined and expanded their collective vision since their earliest practices spent shivering around a single heater while ensconced in an abandoned trailer in rural Maryland. While the band had a collection of demos recorded mainly to book gigs they were approached by Brooklyn-based Engine Room Recordings to release a selection of the songs on a 7-inch entitled Midsommar. They have made appearances at SXSW, NXNE, Art Basel and CMJ. They have been featured in Esquire, SPIN, The New York Times, The Washington Post and highlighted on NPR. Their work with Gant Rugger has garnered them attention in the fashion world and created unexpected bridges in the blogosphere, their music has accompanied various web-based promotional films for the label, and the band members will be featured in the Swedish line’s upcoming 2011 Spring Collection.
With the release of their debut album, U.S. Royalty delivers on capturing the volatility and explosiveness that define their live performances. While taking cues from the players of old, they treat performances as feverish outpourings of rock ‘n roll energy and emotion. For them, there is no reason not to leave it all on the stage every night as a testimony to the music that moves them. U.S. Royalty aims for the grand and the timeless but insists on the raw and the unplanned as they forge their own way in the current musical landscape.
Modern Man was born as an analog rock and roll band, with guitars for hands and drumsticks for feet, in the year 2010 in Washington, DC. As a band, Modern Man believes firmly in tube amps, koozies and shouting. The band will release its first EP in April 2011.
Modern Man would love you and give you free music if you liked their Facebook page.
Modern Man is Zach Goodwin (guitar), Lee Cain (vocals, guitar), Matt Dosberg (bass), Paul Withers (drums). You can contact Modern Man by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Modern man hopes you have a prosperous 2011.