311, SOJA, Cage The Elephant, Foals, KONGOS, Semi Precious Weapons, Brick + Mortar, J Roddy Walston & The Business
10475 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, Maryland, 21044
This event is all ages
All five members of 311 grew up in the 1970's in Omaha, Nebraska. Nick Hexum, Tim Mahoney and Chad Sexton lived on the west side of town and went to Westside High School together. P-Nut and SA Martinez lived on the south side of town and went to Bryan High School together. During high school, Nick and Tim played in a rock band together called "The Ed's". Nick was also in the high school concert jazz band with Chad.
Mention folk music to the average listener and the list of usual suspects come to mind: Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Woody Guthrie, etc. Talk to SOJA lead singer/guitarist Jacob Hemphill, however, and you’ll walk away with a different perspective. “To me, Rage Against The Machine, Wu-Tang Clan, Sade, Johnny Cash, Bob Marley – they’re all folk artists,” he says. “There’s no difference between Raekwon saying, ‘I grew up on the crime side, the New York Times side, where staying alive was no jive,’ to Bob Marley saying, ‘Cold ground was my bed last night and rock was my pillow, too,’ to Johnny Cash saying, ‘I know I had it coming, I know I can’t be free, but those people keep on moving (around) and that’s what tortures me.’ Folk is all about storytelling and passing on a legacy. It’s timeless, it’s limitless and it crosses all boundaries. That’s what this band is striving for. It’s a tall order,” he laughs, “but we’re making our way.”
They’ve raised the bar with Strength to Survive, their fourth full-length album, an intoxicating mix of hot-rod reggae grooves and urgent, zeitgeist-capturing themes. The album, produced by John Alagia (Dave Matthews, John Mayer, O.A.R.), is the band’s first for ATO, the label co-founded by Dave Matthews.
Hemphill says the album was greatly inspired by Bob Marley’s Survival. “That’s the greatest reggae album ever made,” he says. “It has the best basslines and the best lyrics ever heard on one record. Marley wrote it after he went to Africa. I was 13 or 14 when I listened to it for the first time and it triggered all these long-forgotten memories of when I lived in Africa as a kid. My dad was an IMF res rep in Liberia in the late 80’s. I remember when the coup first started—- my family had to hide in these iron bathtubs for 3 days because the military was shooting at everything. I was 7 and that was one of my first memories. We made it out on the last flight. So Africa was always a big part of our lives—- it defined our family, in a way. Music came right after that, so, for me, music was always tied to Africa and music was always something powerful.”
Shortly after returning from Africa, Hemphill met Bobby Lee (bass) in the first grade in Virginia. The two instantly became best friends, finding common ground through their love of hip hop, rock and reggae which they performed together at their middle school talent shows. Throughout high school, they met Ryan Berty (drums), Kenneth Brownell (percussion) and Patrick O’Shea (keyboards) and together formed SOJA. The band gigged locally in the DC area while a couple of the guys finished school, all the while making plans to hit the road after graduation. They actually wound up owning the road.
Over the course of the past few years, SOJA has sold more than 200,000 albums, headlined large theaters in more than 20 countries around the world, generated over 40 million YouTube views, amassed nearly 2 million Facebook fans, and attracted an almost Grateful Dead-like international fanbase that grows with each tour, with caravans of diehards following them from city to city. Most impressive of all, they’ve accomplished all this on their own. This 8-piece band has spent the past year and a half grinding it out from venue to venue, playing more than 360 dates, including headlining sold-out tours of North and South America, as well as opening for O.A.R. and sharing stages with everyone from Dave Matthews Band to Matisyahu.
With Strength to Survive, the band makes an impassioned call for unity and change with universally relatable songs about faith, hope and love. “I could go on and on about the horrible damage we’ve done to the earth or the problems that arise when countries compete for money over an imaginary border, but the album has one central theme,” says Hemphill, “and that’s our hope for the world to be one family.”
It’s a concept best exemplified in the song “Everything Changes.” “People out there with no food at night,” sings Hemphill, “And we say we care, but we don’t, so we all lie/But what if there’s more to this, and one day we become what we do, not what we say/Maybe we need to want to fix it. Maybe stop talking, maybe start listening/ Maybe we need to look at this world less like a square and more like a circle.”
Among the album’s many highlights is the ethereal “Let You Go,” about the road not taken, “Mentality,” the disc’s hard-hitting opening track, and the one-two punch of “Be With Me Now” and “When We Were Younger,” the latter bringing together the macro and the micro with the simple yet resonant line, “All of my answers, now that I’m older, turn into questions.”
Hemphill says the band’s simple and honest approach to music is what’s enabled them to break through obstacles of language, distance and culture in amassing an international following. “What’s the alternative – pop music?” he laughs. “Pop music—especially American popmusic, isabouthavingmoney,sleepingwithmodels,livinginmansions,spendingallof our time in clubs and generally being better than the rest of the world. It’s funny, ‘cuz everyone here is broke. We sing about different things—things that actually matter. I think our fans appreciate that.”
“When I look out in the audience and I see these kids with tears in their eyes, not because I’m singing a love song, but because I’m singing about how the world is dying and we’re the only ones who can stop it, that is huge. I live for that. We played a festival in Brazil in front of 80,000 people, and everybody was singing every word—in English. After one of the songs, I told them, ‘We’re on the road a lot, and people always ask me, “Don’t you ever get
homesick? Don’t you miss your family?” I said, ‘It took me awhile to realize this, but this is my home, and you all are my family.’ The place just blew up. It was amazing. But it’s the truth—those are my people and I always want to do right by them. It’s is the only game in town for me.”
Cage The Elephant
What links the minimalism of American composer Steve Reich, guitars that sound like insects and tennis player Andy Roddick? The answer is one word: Foals. The explanation is a bit more complicated.
Let's start at the beginning. Foals are a five-piece dance-rock band currently living in Brighton. Yannis Philippakis (20, vocals/guitar), Edwin Congreave (22, keyboards), Walter Gervers (23, bass), Jimmy Smith (22, guitar) and Jack Bevan (21, drums) met in their native Oxford, where they bonded over a shared sense of humour and a desire to distance themselves from the city's art school/university scene. Bored with the interchangeable electro records they heard at every party, they decided to make the kind of music they wanted to dance to. "We wanted to make music that was very technical, that wasn't just party music, but at the same time you could dance to it," explains Yannis.
First they christened themselves Foals. It was a nod to Yannis' surname, which means "little lover of horses" in Greek. "I like Foals because it's a nice word and it doesn't give away what the band is about," he explains. "It sounds fresh and new."
Then they installed themselves in a tiny rehearsal room and started bouncing ideas off one another. Tensions ran high. "I was shocked by how critical every one was of each other," says Edwin. "We've always been very self-critical," expands Yannis. "There was an almost dangerous amount of criticism." If the high-pressure atmosphere strained intra-band relations, they quickly identified a winning formula: driving percussion high in the mix, guitars played above the 12th fret, no chords and splashes of synth colour. The result was pristine, perfectly formed dance rock such as Balloons, Hummer and Two Steps Twice.
Foals don't really sound like anyone else. There are hints of other bands, but their lines are cleaner, like the schematics for a piece of precision engineering. And there's something strange about those guitars.
"They're meant to sound like insects," says Yannis. "They're played high on the fret board – we even hold our instruments up high. The result sounds like a cloud of insects forming these strange harmonies."
The nano-tech precision was a result of Yannis' obsession with sonic tidiness and the reductive approach of the aforementioned Steve Reich, the man who introduced the concept of minimalism to popular music in the '60s and '70s. "I can't stand messy music," says Yannis. "It's an obsessive compulsive thing. It doesn't interfere with everyday life: it's aesthetic. I like music that has a structure, an order and a pattern. And I like it when patterns fit together in weird ways."
As well as Reich, Foals name check minimal German techno tracks such as Plumbicon by Monolake and Dead Man Watches The Clock by Dettman/Klock. "But we like all kinds of stuff," says Yannis. "Devo, Glen Branca, Battles, Arthur Russell, Nelly Furtado. Justin Timberlake. I listen to world music. Jack listens to electronica. We like taking the best bits of other music and forming a new whole. That's not an original idea, but I think what comes out of it is fresh."
Live, Foals don't so much fizz with energy as explode like a well-shaken bottle of champagne. "It's like we're all battling for supremacy on stage," says Edwin. The dance-inflected beats have seen them rock venues ranging from the kitchen at a house party to London warehouse parties. It's no exaggeration to say they are the best new live band in the UK.
Meanwhile, the lyrics are striking, surreal images seemingly disconnected from the music. "They're not narratives," says Yannis. "They're usually a image that's seared on my brain. For example, Balloons is a love song, but I had this image of hot balloons being elevated on some strange fuel. I had this image of thousands of hot balloons in the sky. Other lyrics are about partying and girls, but at the same time they're about sine waves and cosine waves. I want the lyrics to augment the aesthetic of the music, but not to smother it."
The sometimes surreal lyrical imagery is complimented by Foals' artwork, all of which is created by the "sixth member of the band", Tinhead. "He creates something visual that matches what we want the music to sound like," says Yannis. "There are all these weird lines, humming birds and bright colours. He chops up things like Soviet imagery and pastes it next to flowers. That cut'n'paste approach reflects the music."
But what about Andy Roddick?
"I read a book by David Foster Wallace called Infinite Jest," says Yannis. "It's about drugs and tennis. It got me into tennis as a result. I like Roddick because he's an all American hero; he could be out of The Great Gatsby. He's got the fastest serve ever. It's beautiful. It's like ballet. It's so clinical. I'm more into Andy Roddick than any musician. I based the lyrics for our song The French Open on the Andy Roddick/Lacost advert."
"No, we don't understand his obsession with Roddick either," says Edwin.
A strange story then. But already a fascinating one. And it's only just started.
KONGOS is a rock band of four brothers (Johnny, Jesse, Dylan and Danny Kongos), sons of South African/British singer-songwriter John Kongos, best known for his two international hits "He's Gonna Step On You Again" and "Tokoloshe Man." They grew up in London and South Africa and are now based in Phoenix, Arizona.
All four brothers were raised around musicians, recording studios and diverse cultures exposing them to a wide variety of musical influences. All learning piano at a young age, they later naturally drifted to other instruments, and Johnny and Jesse studied jazz at Arizona State University.
In 2003 the brothers did their first official gig as KONGOS, but it was in 2007 that the band became serious with the self-release of their self-titled debut album. Although it received glowing reviews and gained them local acclaim in Arizona, it did not do much commercially. Between 2007 and 2011 they decided to focus on their live act as well as releasing digital singles for free with a view to building buzz and demand for a second album. They played in clubs all over Arizona, California and the West Coast, with regular residencies in Phoenix, often doing 3-4 hrs a night of their original music as well as jazz/fusion and covers.
Completely self-contained, they write, produce, engineer and mix/master their music as well as direct, shoot and edit all their own music videos under the label they formed with their father, Tokoloshe Records.
In 2011 they decided to send a few tracks to South African radio stations. 5FM, the biggest TOP 40 station in South Africa, playlisted "I'm Only Joking" which went on to hit No. 1 on the TUKS FM rock chart and was the most requested song for 11 weeks in a row. The immediate radio success snowballed into a South African release of their second album "Lunatic" through JUST MUSIC (December 2011). They followed up with multiple sold-out tours and headlining slots at all of SA's major festivals. The band is now on their 7th single in South Africa, with 5 TOP 40 hits and several No. 1/Top 10 hits on various charts, making the album a top seller and the No. 1download for 6 weeks.
In July 2012, they followed a US "soft-release" of "Lunatic" with a 20+ date North American tour, including showcases in LA, Toronto, NYC (CMJ), and 2 sold out shows at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix. They then returned to South Africa in November once more to open for Linkin Park on their stadium tour, playing to more than 100,000 people. The songs have been rapidly gaining traction outside of South Africa, with some key syncs of "Come With Me Now" including the "Holy Motors" trailer, FOX NFL, ESPN/ABC BCS Bowl games and NBA. In Jan-Feb 2013, the band supported DISPATCH on their European tour, followed by several UK dates supporting AWOLNATION. In March, they played several Arizona festivals and five showcases at SXSW, including the Live Nation Showcase, Amazon MP3/Whole Foods Party, and Marshall Headphones/Crave Magazine Party.
The band is currently working on new music videos and planning more touring.
Semi Precious Weapons
All of us have been playing music since we were mere youths. We have played many-a-style and with many-a-band, but when the four of us started playing garage glam rockNroll together is when shit got for real. People call us a glam band because of our Hollywood good looks and Justin's kunt style, but really we just play good ol' rockNroll. Howeves, we are starting a movement of filthy, sexy, smart, dirty, hard working hustlers who play party rockNroll called STREET GLAM. The other artists in our STREET GLAM movement are Tokyo Diiva, Von Iva, and The Ringers.
Brick + Mortar
"There's an undeniable energy that charges through New Jersey-based duo Brick+Mortar, and this is especially obvious in the dark and seductive "Move to the Ocean," which I've had on repeat all week. Lead singer Brandon Asraf's voice has a ferocious punch to it and effortlessly moves from solemn croon to savage cry without losing an ounce of passion along the way. Tensions build and tribal beats boom under biting lyrics. These guys will hit you like a delightful ton of bricks (pun intended)." - Nylon Magazine (Caitlin Smith)
"This indie rock duo delivers in sound what their name indicates: solid, earthy music. Armed with only a bass, a drum kit and a handful of samples, front-man Brandon Asraf and drummer John Tacon commanded the stage at Arlene's Grocery Tuesday night with a high-energy performance and audience engagement." - Blast Magazine (CMJ 2011 Highlights)
"Brick + Mortar's new track "Heatstroke" is swiftly snaking its way up my best songs of the year list." - ListenBeforeYouBuy.net
"Heatstroke – the acoustic version, makes me pretty fucking happy." - Lucy vs. The Globe
"Instant irresistible, pump you up nature that will bring you back for more and more. Its exciting, and leaves me frothing at the mouth." - MusicSavage.com
"Pretty radical" - Rhythm Livin USA
"Normally it's the music that hits me first, but for this one it was really about the lyrics and the sound of singer Brandon Asraf's voice. Just has a very raw and honest sound to it, lyrics included. Kind of reminds me of Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse (a little less whiny though)." - WhatsProtocol.com
J Roddy Walston & The Business
Praise for J Roddy Walston & The Business:
"Full of spirited and sweaty Southern rock. "
"J Roddy Walston and the Business grab your attention, and hold fast Full of spirited and sweaty Southern rock. "
"They're loud, relentess and wear you out before they're even halfway done with you."
"Their sound has everything there is to love about rock'n'roll, blues, country, gospel...even punk rock throughout. "
"When it comes to pure, unadulterated rock music, there aren't nearly enough bands these days that do it the way J Roddy does. "
-Each Note Secure
"Nobody rocks as hard as J. Roddy Walston and the Business. Watching these guys perform is like watching a live bull fight, with audiences dancing for their lives in the aisles."
"Infectiously manic...they make James Brown look lazy."
-Baltimore City Paper
"What takes them to the level of awesome, is the street-wise, working class attitude that infects each of these numbers - if it's folk, then its tough folk. If we're talking rhythm and soul, it's tough rhythm and soul. And if we're talking rock n roll, you guessed it, it's tough."
$40.00 - $75.00