I remember nearly suffering a mild stroke the first time I saw Iceland’s own We Made God at Iceland Airwaves Music Festival back in 2014. At one point the lead guitarist Arnór Jónasson jumped off stage and started swinging his guitar back and forth in front of my friend Jensyn Lynn Hallett and I as he furiously strummed the strings, smirking a bit as we began squealing with joy. It was as if We Made God (Arnór – Guitar, Biggi – Drums, Maggi – Vox/ Guitar, Stúni – Bass) were all about making violent, cathartic, adrenaline-ridden performances and that spin you into another orbit. I’m just glad this epic encore didn’t spin me face-first into the table of guys below me! We Made God’s brain-bending live performances of math/progressive rock have been recognized by both domestic and foreign media, and their devout fans orbiting around the world can’t wait for the release of their third album next year. As of late 2018, Arnór decided to leave We Made God to focus more time on his role as lead guitarist in VAR (love their sound, see videos below) as well as supporting Maggi’s solo project, Mighty Bear. With his talent, creativity, and breadth of experience, I’m pretty stoked to see what new direction Arnór is pointing his compass. 🙂 Be sure to check out We Made God, VAR, and Mighty Bear at this year’s Airwaves 2018!
Be sure to snag of taste of this TASTY TRIO — Ríkharður Sigurjónsson (drums), Björn Heimir Önundarson (bass/trumpet), Kjartan (Cori) Kolbeinsson (guitar) — Captain Syrup any chance you CAN GET. I swear to the heavens you will NOT be disappointed. The electrifying, high-octane SONIC ADVENTURE of this impressive instrumental 3 piece will have you bouncing off the walls in no time. Described by an Icelandic newspaper as “Öfgafunk” (translates in English to “Severe Funk”), Captain Syrup tastes like maddening mix of math rock fused with fast, freaky funk and detonating drum & bass. My head nearly exploded into fireworks when watching Cori slap Björn’s bass while Björn blasted into the trumpet. They absolutely SLAYED their set and were hands down one of my top discoveries at Iceland Airwaves last year! When it comes to Captain Syrup, grabbing a taste with surely MELT YOUR FACE. 😛 ❤
GDJYB(Gai Dan Jane Yuk Bang) were one of the top new discoveries for me at Iceland Airwaves this year. Calling themselves a “Math-folk girl band from Hong Kong and plays song in Honglish,” this badass quintet (Soni Cheng – guitarist, Heihei Ng – Drummer, Soft Liu – Vocalist, Wing Chan – Bassist). My eyes were bugging out the entire set and bugged out EVEN MORE when I learned that they will be playing at San Francisco’sNoise Popfestival at the end of February! Can’t wait to see them again! Be sure to check out GDJYB’s debut EP (what I bought right after the set) and their first full album (11 songs) ‘23:59 Before Tomorrow,’ released in early 2017 in both Hong Kong and Taiwan. I true treat! 🙂
“If there’s a band capable of striking a successful balance between tranquility and tumult, calm and tension, it’s GDJYB, Hong Kong’s best-kept secret. Featured on the art-pop quartet’s debut album, 23:59 Before Tomorrow, the intriguingly titled “That Day I Went to His Funeral” presents a clean, smooth, and resolutely warm façade, one capable of disarming the most hardened set of ears. Beneath its alluring surface, however, the band can be heard churning out energetically swirling tangles of guitar, bass, drums, and even multi-part harmonies that in their delicate complexity fall somewhere between the Marine Girls’ jazzy post-punk and Warpaint’s dreamy tribal pop.” –KEXP
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. ❤
Such a treat to have Minus the Bear and SilverSun Pickups share the same stage last Saturday at the Fox Theater Oakland. Two INCREDIBLE BANDS with two very different sound/style, and I’m glad to have been following them both since 2009. I love that Minus the bear played all of my favorites (especially the first!): Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse, My Time, Into the Mirror, and Last Kiss. Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse is one of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITES! It’s a perfect anthem for the wondrous wanderlust, and it always makes my heart flutter as it jogs my memories of past adventures. Dave Knudson (lead guitar) was sitting in a chair for most of the set because he recently broke his leg, and Alex Rose (keys, backing vocals) laughed and said they — Jake Snider (vocals, guitar), Cory Murchy (bass guitar), and Joshua Sparks (drums) — prefer it this way because it it reminds them of a casual jam session in someone’s living room. A short but tasty set by these highly seasoned musicians!