Judah & The Lion: “Hey, my life is real great, feel I’m well on my way to my dreams coming true and I’m getting to do with you” – The Chapel (April 21, 2016)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember leaving The Chapel (small venue in SF) in AWE when I first saw Judah & the Lion there over a year ago. To my PLEASANT SURPRISE, these Nashville natives were able to deliver their SUPERB STAGE PRESENCE and RELENTLESS ENERGY to a much larger venue, BottleRock Napa main ‘Jam Cellars’ stage. I was once again blown away by their unique fusion of folk and hip-hop (“Folk Hop n Roll”) and their hilarious, coordinated dance routines (even a booty dance!) to some of their songs. Flying banjos and mandolins, twirling accordions, broken drums sticks, are just a few of the flashbacks that I have, and I am still amazed by the passion and charisma of the frontman, Judah Akers, who was running all over stage and into/onto the crowd (yes, there was a crowd surf!). The best part is that you really DIDN’T NEED to know any of their songs prior, for I guarantee you’d find yourself picking up the lyrics and quickly chiming in on the chorus as if if was your LIFE ANTHEM. Highlights for me were ‘Kicking Da Leaves,’ ‘Hold On,’  ‘Going to Mars,’ ‘Better Man,’ a cover of The Killers ‘s ‘Mr. Brightside’ (HELL YES) and the EPIC ENCORE of ‘Take it all back,’ which is STILL A BLUR and pretty much felt like an EXORCISM of negative energy. I definitely left that set “thinking I could do anything I want,” which was the ONE and ONLY request that Judah asked of the audience. Still buzzing from that wildly creative, genre bending experience!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radical Face: “So, collect your scars and wear ’em well, Your blood’s a good an ink as any” – The Chapel (May 12, 2016)

The Chapel, San Francisco
Written by Erica Andreozzi

I first saw Radical Face back in Nov 2014 at Iceland Airwaves music festival, thanks to a girl standing next to me up front who said I MUST stay for his set (and boy was I glad I did). Not having known anything about him, I was quickly taken back by the clever tales that he strung into dark (yet witty) songs — tales backed by sweeping strings (my favorite, the cello!) and piercing percussion. I later learned that Radical Face – the moniker of multifaceted musician Ben Cooper — has “always wanted to write a book,” and so it makes sense that his songs are literally book chapters COME TO LIFE. At the early age of 19, Ben wrote two books that tragically were lost in a hard drive crash; but instead of giving up, he turned to music. “I thought: why not do them as records? There could be a set of people, and we follow their bloodlines,” he says, “and instead of passing down genetic traits, we could pass down melodic patterns that mutate with each generation.”

Taking flight with this idea, Ben began working on a series of records (recorded in the tool-shed behind my family’s house nonetheless) collectively called ‘The Family Tree.’ He explains the 8-year journey here: “It all began from a desire to write my own family saga, only in music form instead of a novel. So I started a series of albums that were all interconnected, beginning with The Roots, onto The Branches and finally The Leaves which I just released. Along the way, there were enough songs that didn’t fit within the length of each album, which I collected into a series called The Bastards. All of the songs are related to the others in some way or another, and this website was designed as a guide to help you discover all the different connections… A great place to start is ‘Family Portrait‘ which is the beginning of the Family Tree, all songs and stories stem from this one.”

This TREE-O of records (Bear Machine Records, Nettwerk Music Group) collectively garnered a strong fan base for Ben both in Europe (especially) and the States, and Ben was able to secure two nights back-to-back at the Chapel, the first of which was SOLD OUT. A down-to-earth Jacksonville native, Ben was shocked to see that all these people came to see him play some “sad bastard music” on a weeknight, and warned them of going “down the bummed rabbit hole.” Although some of his songs are indeed “dark” — ‘Ghost Town‘ (about a guy that ends up on the road cause he murders alot), ‘Black Eyes‘ (about domestic abuse), ‘The Mute‘ (about a kid who can’t hear) — he adds lots of levity in between with his dry humor and hilarious commentary. Standouts for me were Black Eyes, We’re on our way (with some intense hand-clapping that Ben joked was really a way to torture his band mates), Welcome Home (awesome “anthem-ic” sing-a-long by the crowd), and OF COURSE Always Gold (where Ben teased his drummer Nick about messing up the keyboard intro, haha). The encore of The Mute and Wrapped in Piano Strings (an oldie but goodie) were awesome as well, and we all perked up with a smile when Ben muttered “Don’t tempt me” in response to a fan requesting that he “Take his shirt off.” The only thing I left bummed about was not hearing ‘The Crooked Kind,’ as this is my absolute FAVORITE Radical Face song, and I was hoping to sing-a-long to the verse that still slays me every time: “So, collect your scars and wear ’em well, Your blood’s a good an ink as any.” For those of you on the East Coast, you can catch him next in Philly, NYC, and the Newport Folk Fest. A radical Radical Face that you definitely don’t want to miss!

(see below for videos and more detail from the show)

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Julia Holter- Her distinct drift towards pop reels us all in: The Chapel (Jan 31, 2016)

The Chapel, San Francisco

Written by Erica Andreozzi

Julia Holter surely had many waiting with anticipation that night at the Chapel (SOLD OUT show) as she walked out on stage a few minutes late. She addressed the audience with a tangible upbeat energy that closely matched the upbeat tone of her newest album, Have You in my Wilderness (Domino records). This album is her most successful chart release to date, most likely resulting from a distinct drift towards pop and less deep, dark undercurrents of her former albums: Tragedy, Ekstasis, and Loud City Song. The charming melodies of songs like ‘Silhouette’ and ‘Betsy on the Roof’ are likely to win any new listeners over, and the gorgeous encore of ‘Sea Calls Me Home’ will anchor most of us down as faithful future fans. ‘Feel You’ was as much a standout for me as it was for the rest, for the crowd cheered with extra vigor as soon as they heard the intro.

Holter announced early on, “I’m not going to talk anymore,” manning the keyboard with power and purpose and ensuring that her vocals also had a chance to take center stage. The request for “more vocals in my monitor” became a consistent trend, enticing one avid fan (male) to cheekily call out, “You can have more vocals in MY MONITOR…” Julia acted all coy and playfully responded, “you don’t have a monitor,” (wink wink) before laughing to herself and moving on to the next gem — the captivating cover of Dionne Warwick’s ‘Don’t Make Me Over.’ She also slayed us with ‘Marienbad,’ the notable standout from Ekstasis, and her arresting accompaniment of drums, upright bass and viola left most of us stunned. With this, she made sure to point out that her talented accompanying artists were Bay Area locals, having grown up in the San Francisco area and having played in local SF venues like Amnesia, right down the street.

Distilling influences from wide-ranging genres like French classical to jazz-infused post-rock to avant garde to experimental pop, this eclectic composer would have you believing she’s experienced many eras of music spanning many different countries. You’d then be incredulous to learn that Julia is just a 31-year old Los Angles Cali girl with simply a seasoned songwriting style. Her compositions are defined by shape-shifting complexities and idiosyncrasies (reminiscent of the legends like Bjork and Joanna Newsom), and we look forward seeing what next wave of new genre she’ll catch and bring on board.