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Show Review: The Polish Ambassador @ The Fillmore 10/18/14

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On October 18th I had the pleasure of seeing The Polish Ambassador’s Pushing Through the Pavement tour at the Fillmore Auditorium. The night’s entertainment consisted of a beautiful blend of music from Mr. Lif, Ayla Nereo, Wildlight, Random Rab, and The Polish Ambassador. Most of the music (Polish and his crew) was accompanied by the visual stylings of the incredibly talented Liminus. As someone who has attended many concerts and events I know it’s not often you go to a show where every interaction is positive. This was one of those shows. The crowd was amazing and the positivity was infectious. It was the type of show that, when I asked the person in front of me for a second time who he got his gum from because it smelled so good, he just laughed, bit it in half and offered me some. Now that may seem gross to some of you, however when you’re in a room where everyone feels like family and you’re already passing around bottles of water and beer to share what’s a tiny bit of saliva among friends?

The music, the lyrics, the melodies, the intention of every artist was so good and so pure; it made for an incredible experience. When I arrived at the show (a bit late) Wildlight was just getting started. Polish, Ayla and Liminus shared their joy with us and kicked the mood off right. Ayla spoke beautifully about life in-between songs, and they shared material with us so new it wasn’t even finished. It was so wonderful to see a musical group feel comfortable enough with their audience, a sold out show full of light workers, to share a work in progress.

Photo by Zac Fabian

Photo by Zac Fabian

Random Rab’s set took us to outer space and back. I found myself with my eyes closed, swaying back and forth as his music took me up out of the Fillmore, away from the city, away from Denver, away from the earth. I came back down when Ayla returned to stage the stage for end of the set to sing while Random Rab completed his musical journey.

“I wish you could be up here and see this” …“thank you for being here”…the amount of love and gratitude in the building at the end of the show was remarkable. I could describe Polish’s set to you, tell you how he played the perfect selection from the new album, how he got down and dirty dropping his BlackstreetNo Diggity (The Polish Ambassador Remix), but instead I’ll describe the way he spoke to us after slaying his set with the assistance of Liminus, Ayla and Mr. Lif. The one thing he said that has stuck with me the most is when he told us “it’s beautiful to stand up here and see all of you hugging and kissing” because it was beautiful. Then, they each went on to say a few words about the Permaculture Action Tour that has been a continuing success. “We wanna rock a party and then get together tomorrow and create something beautiful in your neighborhood.” Unfortunately I was unable to attend this part of the experience but WTMO’s own, Alex Malacoff was there. Be on the lookout for the review of his experiences, coming at you later today!

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Show Preview: The String Cheese Incident @ Tower Theater 11/7/14

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Colorado jam veterans, String Cheese Incident, will be bring their eclectic variety of Boulder bluegrass infused trance funk (though that doesn’t aptly describe their complex sound) to the Tower Theater on Friday, November 7th. This show in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, will see String Cheese continue their run of successful shows spanning from a festival packed summer. They will be coming off hot from the Suwanee Hulaween festival in Florida, and they will surely be keeping that fire alive for an exclusive East coast fall tour, which is sure to be a treat for all of us here on this side of the country.

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Show Review: Keller Williams

Music Farm Columbia was absolutely the place to be last Saturday in downtown Columbia, SC. The act was Keller Williams and the vibe was exactly what you would expect at a Keller show; an overwhelmingly friendly dance party.

I arrived in Columbia with my two best friends around 7 pm and found myself extremely comfortable in the cool air. Sorry to break it to you Northerners, but 75 degrees at nighttime when it’s well into October is what makes me love this state. After a humorous drive with our Uber taxi driver, we got to the venue and scoped it out. With time to kill, we took a walk and checked out what Columbia had to offer in terms of nightlife. After quickly meeting another group of college kids, we hung with them and went to play some pool. Needless to say, we showed them how to play the game. The atmosphere remained friendly, and I could have stuck around for a few more games, but Keller’s arrival was quickly approaching, so we took a short walk back to the venue and got situated.

Upon entering the Music Farm, I was blown away by just how nice of a venue it was. According to a few employees, the general consensus was that they had only been in that location for about 2 months, give or take. This was definitely apparent. The bar area, bathrooms, and main dance floor were spotless. My observations about my surroundings were quickly made unimportant as the lights came down and Keller took the stage.

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Photography by Ellison White

In his usual shoeless attire, Keller entered the spotlight to a huge applause, grinning from ear to ear. There is something about Keller that the South loves. Whether it’s his carefree attitude or his unbelievable guitar skills that are based in the bluegrass tradition, many refer to Keller as if he is a long-time friend or brother. As he began picking and strumming away, it’s important to remember how Keller’s shows naturally flow together and can change tones and themes on a dime. The first song I recognized from the “troubadour,” as a close friend of mine would describe him, was Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.” This is a prime example of how Keller will play whatever he wants and people will still be getting down like absolute fools. We heard everything from The Beatles “Drive My Car” to The Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive.” I, by no stretch of the imagination, am a fan of Taylor Swift’s music. However, Keller’s spin on the original required zero appreciation for the original song for the crowd to enjoy. In his own style, the song took a departure from everything we would expect from a Taylor Swift song. Before we could even get settled into the unlikely cover, Keller branched off and started beat boxing. With a tap of his shoeless foot, his beat was now looping, creating a base for his guitar playing and further exploration into whatever musical idea that came into his mind.

The night continued and we were now seemingly miles away from anything resembling Taylor Swift. One of my favorite aspects of a Keller show is how broad his song and genre choices can be. I was pleasantly surprised to hear “Best Feeling,” a song penned by Keller and The String Cheese Incident. In that moment, just as the song says, we all felt like kids on Christmas day, smiling and jumping around in excitement. This was by far one of the friendliest crowds I have been a part of in recent memory.

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Photography by Ellison White

The show continued in an unpredictable fashion and we found ourselves halfway through a song that had all the characteristics of a drum and bass song. Keller’s electronic drum pad was creating the backbone that kept us all dancing. His bass guitar was looping a tasty melody of popping and slapping. It was at that moment that we all realized we were seguing directly into Phish’s “Birds of a Feather.” The audience erupted and we all sang out the chorus in unison. At this point, I didn’t think the show could get any better. I had gotten my request that night, which was a Phish cover. After nearly suffering a serious hand injury from the gratuitous high-fives that were going around, the audience let out of gasp of disbelief as we all realized Keller was now taking us right into The Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street.” The Music Farm went electric and people were jumping up and down with joy. We all woo’d and boogied harder than I thought was possible. It’s always a treat to catch a Grateful Dead cover in a live setting, but when Keller plays a song from their repertoire, he truly brings it to life.

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Photography by Ellison White

As the show ended, which felt awfully too soon, the lights came up and out came the funk. The show was over but the crowd was not done dancing. “Brick House” by The Commodores came over the PA system, releasing some kind of funk-driven mythological creature from the souls of everyone in attendance. It was truly a sight to behold with the lights coming up and no one embarrassed to show just how they get down. Wound up like a top and dropped into downtown Columbia, we all were eventually funneled out of the venue and into the night to share the energy Keller had shared with us.

All photos by Ellison White Photography
You can visit his website here

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Show Preview: SubSanctuary pt. 3 w/ Brightside, Wink, & Cryoverb

If I had to pick the moment I fell in love with psy-bass music, I’d happily offer you the story of my dear friend Wink and I’s journey deep into the woods early Sunday morning at Rootwire Music and Arts Festival 2K13. I had finally taken his advice and rested up during the day to save some energy for the slew of underground artists playing from midnight-7am. We were in prime condition to find the funk, and le funk, we did find! That morning, I recall bouncing on the handrail of a retro-fitted stage on top of an old school bus to the salacious sounds of Push/Pull, Erothyme, Soulacybin and last but not least, Futexture. That 5 hour span of existence, to this day, remains one of my most prized memories. A handful of months later, we just couldn’t let go of the idea of throwing our own art/culture-centric psy-bass event here in Pittsburgh, PA. With some late-nights and ample planning, we threw together our first SubSanctuary back in April 2014. Our good friend Eric Tully, leading Brightside Movement, and dear Wink set the tone for what was sure to not be the only one of its kind. Round two came by in June, headlined by West Coast psy-trap lord Yheti alongside a slew of local painters and artisans.

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So please, this Friday, Oct. 24 join us as we blast off into our third evening of friends, family, art and lush low frequencies at 4041 Bigelow Blvd, N. Oakland, Pittsburgh, PA. The line up features SubSanctuary O.G’s, Brightside and Wink, and introduces Cryoverb to our new community. Admission is only $5 with the action stretching well into the morning, starting at 11pm, and ending at 5am.

Costumes are highly encouraged and special prizes will be awarded to those with the funkiest, freshest apparel!! Don’t hold back!!

Event is BYOB and features and outdoor rooftop lounge so dress appropriately!

We hope to see plenty of new and old faces, and promise a beautiful evening of collective consciousness and co-creation :)

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Show Preview: Umphrey’s McGee and Dopapod @ Stage AE in Pittsburgh, 10/24

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Pittsburgh, it’s that time of year again! Umphrey’s McGree is playing this Friday with Dopapod as the opening band. You can get tickets here, or the day of when the doors open at 6:30.

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If you haven’t yet, check out their most recent album, Similar Skin, which was released back in June. In brief, it’s like a tight bundle of 1980s King Crimson meeting The Police and Yes, with a pinch of Queens of the Stone Age.  Most popular songs? “No Diablo”, “Puppet String” and “The Linear”. If you want my opinion, “Puppet string” and “Educated Guess”,  are my favorites.

Here’s a video of “Puppet String” to get you ready to rage

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Show Review: Escape Music Festival Day 1

Disclaimer: Due to unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to attend day 2 of this event.

It was a cold, cloudy October afternoon when Escape Music Festival set up on New York City’s Governor’s Island, a tiny island adjacent to the southern tip of Manhattan, only accessible by ferry. Due to the infrequency of the ferry — I believe it runs once every hour, but takes just five minutes to reach the island — the event didn’t begin to get crowded until late, after the sun went down. This made for an intimate festival experience until any other I’ve experienced — an Escape, if you will, from the typical overcrowded, long-line-waiting, over-the-top experiences I’ve seen in the past.

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Photos: Escape Music Festival Day 1, 10/11/14