City of the Sun: “If you came here for a chill acoustic show, this ain’t it” – The Cornerstone in Berkeley (Nov 7, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SO STOKED to have met the TREMENDOUSLY TALENTED TRIO (John Pita, Avi Snow, Zach Para) that is City of the Sun after their MIND-NUMBING SHOW at the Cornerstone Brewery in Berkeley.  I may have been tired and jet-lagged from Iceland Airwaves music festival (for which I only just returned the day before), but that surely did NOT keep me from SEEING THE SUN, City of the Sun. This EXPLOSIVE, GENRE-BENDING band blends post-rock and flamenco style guitar with unique percussion (learned in Peru) to create soundscapes that SWEEP YOU TO THE SKY. I first discovered City of the Sun at BottleRock Napa back in May and remember my knees getting weak (yes, THAT GOOD) as I ran to the stage half-way into their first SONG. They reminded me a bit of both Explosions in the Sky and Rodrigo y Gabriela, two of my ALL TIME FAVORITE bands (but with very different styles). They also had a bit of a Vancouver Sleep Clinic vibe, which (oddly enough), they told me they met a few months back at a music festival in Vegas and considered Tim Bettinsons‘ vocals a great fit for their music.  🙂

Having honed their craft as buskers in NYC, their stage presence was pretty phenomenal for a band new to the festival circuit, and you could tell they were thirsty for a rowdy crowd. It’s pretty cool that they wrote a song (‘You and I… And New York‘) about the city that provided much of their influence and inspiration, as well as a platform to play to a world full of strangers. NYC pedestrians are def a tough crowd!

I smiled SO FREAKING WIDE when John Pita (lead guitar) stuck his head over the crowd and shouted “LET ME SEE ALL YOUR FUCKING EYES!” Haha. YAAAAAS. You better believe I took that command to heart and waved my big-eyed puppet face his way the entire set. Whelp, he must have liked the puppet participation, cause during the encore (‘Everything‘), he launched toward me at 2 min in and yelled “HEY!” as if to raise the roof of the joint! That song is EVERYTHING I could ever want and need! So FREAKING SICK; a true TIMELESS, UNIVERSAL TRACK that will have EVERYONE and EVERYTHING moving their bodies in ways they never knew how! It’s only a matter of time before these guys shine their vibrant tunes ‘To the Sun and All the Cites In Between.’ (name of their debut album).

Another standout track (but let’s get real they are all amazing) is ‘Explosions.’ (video below) If this song does not make you FEEL EXPLOSIONS all over, I am concerned for you. It’s seriously one of the most beautiful instrumental tracks I’ve heard in a long, long time. ‘Brothers‘ (video below) is another track that has my heart, for when is hits, I simply “feel no pain” (and I’m pretty sure Bob Marley would agree). It’s probably not a coincidence then that they kick off their album with this one. The build-up is so damn gorgeous. What a slayer.

Lucky for us they happened to perform two amazing covers: (1) Santana‘s ‘Jingo‘ and (2) The xx‘s ‘Intro.’ WHAT A TREAT to hear City of the Sun brand this XX masterpiece with heir own unique flamenco guitar/post-rock signature. SOOOOOO GOOOOOOOD.

They also treated us to a new song called ‘Firefly‘ (which def flew right into my heart and lit it up) as well as an unreleased song with no title (video below).

I will never forget John Pita’s last words to the crowd: “If you can here for a chill acoustic show, this ain’t it.”  DAMN STRAIGHT. You came for something that words simply cannot describe. You just gotta show up and see for yourself. ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Videos from their set at BottleRock Napa:

 

 

 

 

Daniel Champagne: “When I told you I, was afraid to fall…really I, was afraid to fly…at all”

Daniel Champagne– The ESPY in St. Kilda, Melbourne

(May 14, 2012)

Meet Daniel Champagne, an incredible Aussie musician who I discovered just over 2 years ago at the ESPY in Melbourne, Australia. I am still blown away by his talent, and his desire to push the limits with guitar. His manic percussive skills and unique strumming/tapping/flicking of the guitar remind me a bit of Andy McKee and Gabriela (of Rodrigo y Gabriela), both of whom are highly-reputed and globally-recognized for their unique, progressive style and whom have defined a category ALL THEIR OWN. If you were listening to Dan’s music from the back of a room, you would think there was a FULL BAND on stage and would later be SHOCKED to find out it was only ONE MAN. Lastfm has described him “one of the most talked-about rising star of Australia’s next generation,” who “delivers one of the most impressive one-man-shows out there! Reaching to musical depth’s far beyond his years and a way with the guitar that can only be seen to be believed. Champagne often sounds closer to a three-piece band than the 21 year old singer songwriter guitarist now established as a renowned performer on both the Australian and international stage.” Along similar lines, music gurus at Byron Bluesfest 2014 have said, “Daniel Champagne exudes a natural ease on stage, as he sings poignant lyrics and beautifully crafted melodies that invariably whisk the heart up with grand romanticism. Coupled with an exhilarating guitar talent that transcends mere acoustic playing to replicate a whole band, Champagne is just magical.”

It also doesn’t hurt that this guitar prodigy (who yes, picked up this instrument at the age of 5), also has a  dreamy voice. Of the songs that I was lucky enough to get great videos of (see below), Nightingale and Losing Home are my favorites…(although Spoonful will definitely made your JAW DROP and KEEP IT THERE.) Nightingale begins with an incredibly beautiful guitar melody, and soon follows with a verse that immediately wraps your skin in chills:

“When I told you I was afraid to fall, really I, was afraid to fly…
When I told you I was afraid to fall, really I, was afraid to fly…AT ALL….”

Such a lovely song that really captures the notion of having to risk in order to reap rewards…having to “fall” in order to “fly.” Lyrics like this are such a good reminder that one should never lose hope in chasing those dreams, keeping those wings in flight. That idea reminds me of something someone once told me (and has stayed with me ever since): “Erica, you’re kinda like one of those birds that was “never meant to be caged”- Somehow, you’d make the cage take flight.”  YAAAS. Maybe I’m a “nightingale” in disguise. Haha.

Lose Home was another one that really raised the hair on my skin…another “dreamy song” (yes, you can hear me say this in the video) about the concept of losing “home” when you are living the nomadic lifestyle of a person chasing their dreams/goals: “Now we’re bound to roam…losing light, losing love, losing home.” Having gone to tons of gigs in these past 2 years, I’ve come to notice that SO MANY artists write songs about this vague notion of “home,” a place which probably becomes less and less linked to one specific geographical region and  instead extends to all the new places they’ve traveled and left their mark. All of the travel that comes along with touring has probably affected musicians in many ways– their dreams, judgements, priorities, values, sacrifices–and has molded their vision of what “home” should be. Dan got it right when he says that more more you “roam,” the more you likely you are to “lose home.” BUT, I think everyone ultimately figures it (“home”) out in time. x

Next up in the set was I Grew Up Where I Could See the Stars, which Dan attributes to the New South Wales region where he is from, and possibly will be “home’ again one day. Another beaut that seems to just make all of those trouble melt away…

Dan’s encore was Spoonful, a very technical guitar song that really SHOWED OFF his impressive, jaw-dropping guitar skills that “no one else could possibly play unless they spent at least two lifetimes studying the art” (The BW Review). I remember  laughing deliriously because I was in such a stuper from it all, and couldn’t believe that I was watching a prodigy FOR FREE when I have paid substantial money to see musicians not nearly HALF AS GOOD. I clearly wanted more than just a “Spoonful” of this! x

Since that surprise treat of a gig two years back in Melbourne, Dan has done very well for himself. He’s traveled North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, New Zealand and of course, his homeland Australia playing such festivals as Vancouver and Mariposa Folk (Canada), Belgium’s Labadoux Festival and Australia’s Woodford, Falls Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival and the legendary Byron Bay Bluesfest. During these tours, he’s shared stages with likes of Lucinda Williams, Judy Collins, INXS, John Butler, KT Tunstall and Ani DiFranco (who he supported), and has also independently released three EPs (‘My Own Design,’ ‘Wide Eyed and Open’, and ‘Real Live Offering‘) and a debut album (‘Pint of Mystery‘). Dan has recently signed to US booking agency Fleming Artists and has relocated to North America where he continues to tour. CHECK HIM OUT AND THANK ME LATER! 😉

VIDEOS:

Nightingale

Loosing Home

I Grew Up Where I Could See the Stars

Spoonful

PICTURES:

Daniel CHampagne