$12 ADVANCE / $14 DAY OF SHOW / $16 BOX OFFICE
Known for the sparse, haunting qualities of the mostly solo recordings he refers to as Dzroots-folk music,dz in which his voice is often accompanied by little more than a banjo or acoustic guitar, Whitmore began writing songs last year with some changes in mind. DzI purposefully went into it wanting to make a little bit of a departure,sonically, using an electric guitar a little bit more and adding more instrumentation, more full-band type stuff,dz he says. Raised on a family farm in Iowa and inspired by the insurgent sounds of The Jesus Lizard, Bad Brains and Minutemen, Whitmore sketched out the new songs between feeding animals and tending crops. Each week he traveled two hours to Flat Black Studios in Iowa City, built and operated by his cousin and producer, Luke Tweedy. Together, where they would rehearse, record and build songs, sometimes welcoming other musicians to play live on tracks. Energized by this diversifying, and also given the space to pair a patient sense of craft with the usual punk rock spirit to which Whitmore has always paid homage, the songs on his new album, Radium Death (out now on ANTI- Records), hum with an exigent electricity—whether amplified or not. They also present a cohesive look into those recurring Whitmore themes of respect, protection, sustenance and survival.
DOORS: 8 PM / $12 ADVANCE / $14 DAY OF / $16 BOX OFFICE / ALL AGES
Mephiskapheles are back in red and black for 2014. The band who invented the devilish, whimsical MTV- and radio-friendly genre of Satanic Ska, then defied critics by exploring even greater possibilities for their darkly original ska fusion, have reunited, with a new tour and new album in the works.
Formed in the East Village of New York City in early 1991 by a group of artists, ad-agency employees, and jazz musicians, Mephiskapheles played their first show on Long Island, and from day one began attracting a diverse, dedicated fan base.
Flash-forward to today; and with Satanic Ska being, without a doubt, the genre of music most relevant to our current times. Mephiskapheles are picking up where they left off, with a reissue program with Jump Up Records, a focused performance schedule, and a new Mephiskapheles album in the works.
Linear Downfall, an experimental band from Nashville, is known for seamlessly blending psychotic noise along with beautiful melodies. Their music taps into the highs and lows of life and challenges one to look inward. Their live show is intense and jarring captivating the audience from beginning to end. They have self-released three albums and one EP, extensively toured the U.S., and caught the attention of the Flaming Lips which led to their side project called the Electric Würms.
In 2014, they toured in support of their third self-released album, “Fragmental Hippocampus” and released the first Electric Würms album, “Musik, die Schwer zu Twerk.” A 5-song EP of brand new material was released in November as the band put the finishing touches on a 4th album, “Sufferland.” The band released “Sufferland” on November 6th, 2015 along with a full-length film to correspond with the highly visual music of their new album. The film "Sufferland" was chosen and screened twice in early 2015 for the Nashville Film Festival.
6 pm / $10 adv / $13 door / All Ages
6 PM / $10 ADV / $13 DOOR
Doors: 8 / $12 Advance / $15 Day of / $17 Box office / ALL AGES
Born in Detroit, and currently residing in Los Angeles, JMSN (born Christian Berishaj), is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, engineer, mixer, and videographer. The R&B crooner, who released his debut album, †Priscilla†, in January 2012, also operates his indie label, White Room Records, out of his home studio. The success of his freshman album captured the attention of platinum-selling artist Usher, and even landed JMSN four slots on Kendrick Lamar's groundbreaking Good Kid, M.A.A.D City album ("Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe", "The Art Of Peer Pressure", "Sing About Me/Dying Of Thirst", "Real").
JMSN's impressive talents have allowed him to collaborate with the likes of Game, J. Cole, Tyga, Ab-Soul, Kaytranada, Ta-ku, and many others. The success of JMSN's self-titled album, affectionately known as the Blue Album, released in December 2014, paved the way for a successful world tour, including multiple stops across North America, Europe, Australia, and China. JMSN's musical evolution continues with a new release coming in 2016 via White Room Records.
DOORS @ 6:30 PM / $10 / ALL AGES
MORE INFO COMING SOON!
The Grizzly Band - (Altercation Records)
This band has reached amazing stride's since they're 2012 inception, and the momentum behind them keeps growing and growing!!
Revealing they’re inspirations from the talents of Bruce Springsteen, Lucero, Social Distortion, Johnny Cash, and Jawbreaker, this band comes out with a More than mesmerizing performance. The mixture of punk, rock n roll, and country (esq) overtones is almost mind boggling. The kind of band that leaves you in absolute awe! True southern whisky punk!
The band has recently shared the stage with such contemporaries as Zeke, Old Man Markley, Riverboat Gamblers, 2 Rocklahoma Fests, and oh, so much more. . .
Before Radio -
Sighted as one of Houston’s more energetic bands, Before Radio hit a quick stride by Immediately striking crowds with easy to swallow songs, and a perplexingly poppy, "bob your head" type command. The energy in the music can build to almost pure chaos, and yet maintain an absolute detail of design. Akin to early Goo Goo Dolls, Descendents, and even traces of Gin Blossoms. Quoter’s from they’re last show here in December, insisted they where “better than radio”.
Sik Mule -
These guys truly are Sik!!
"Stomp-Rock Groove Blasters!" It's raw, electric, Punk-Drunken Bluesy Rock. They got that soulful sound & wild performance...You're in for a treat!
Satin Hooks -
This band hit hard in the mid to late 2000”s exhilarating any place they played!
Whether it be an off the beaten path warehouse, or the West Fest street festivals, This band has a legendary status of there own, bringing down the house In a fashion only they could, and its just as surreal as the hooks actually are! Centered in the experimental, but somehow making since, the pleasantry's , the pace, originality and design is something that has never been touched. And Good luck trying, cause they are back, and keeping they're throne!!
Omaha, NE’s The Good Life returns this summer with their first album in eight years, Everybody’s Coming Down. Call it a soundtrack to Man’s 21st century existential angst, the album poses cosmic queries, contemplates regrets, questions self-worth, and examines the possibility of living in the moment, when memories are all that we truly take with us. And in some ways, that’s the sweet spot front man and lyricist Tim Kasher inhabits: trying to make sense of this world of ours, and how and why we navigate it the way we do.
Everybody’s Coming Down moves in a new direction musically and, in contrast to The Good Life’s earlier releases, is very much a rock record. It is also the first that truly embodies the band as a whole, more so than any previous album. In blending elements of drummer Roger L. Lewis’s love of classic rock, multi-instrumentalist Ryan Fox’s chaotic approach to melody, Stefanie Drootin-Senseney’s propulsive yet tuneful bass parts, and Kasher’s deft, complementary song writing, the band sparked a vibrant evolution in sound. The gentler, folk-driven pop/rock for which the band is beloved remains (sonic sister album bookends “7 In The Morning” and “Midnight Is Upon Us;” “The Troubadour’s Green Room”), but it is now mixed amongst guitars lines that unspool in a blaze across songs that hit harder and more viscerally (“Everybody,” “Holy Shit”), as well as moments of distorted psychedelia and moody ambience (“Flotsam Locked Into A Groove,” “Diving Bell,” “How Small We Are”).
The Good Life have never been afraid to switch up their sound, refusing to be ascribed as one thing or another. 2000’s Novena On A Nocturn – recorded essentially as a solo project by Kasher as an outlet for quieter songs that didn’t quite fit with his long-standing band Cursive – was spacious and stirring, glistening with occasional electronic flourishes. 2002’s Black Out saw The Good Life grow into a full band, telling tales of drunken nights and capricious lovers over an evocative blend of electronic and traditional instrumentation. 2004’s Album Of The Year was the first recorded with the now longtime core band of Kasher, Drootin-Senseney, Fox, and Lewis. Hailed by Pitchfork, Alternative Press, NYLON, SPIN, and Time Out New York, among others, this album left behind any electronic touches as it chronicled 12 months of a doomed relationship – and the attendant complex feelings – through strains of soaring pop. 2007’s Help Wanted Nights, conceived as the soundtrack to a screenplay, was a more musically stripped-down affair and presented a bare look at human emotions through characters in a small-town bar.
Following a tour supporting Help Wanted Nights, and save for a handful of June 2010 shows, the band’s four members quietly moved on to other projects without officially saying goodbye, but with the confident assumption that they’d come back together again. Then life, as it does, took over: Kasher moved around the US, eventually settled in Chicago, and released two Cursive albums as well as two solo albums. Drootin-Senseney relocated to Los Angeles with her husband Chris, where they had a couple of kids and formed the band Big Harp, which released two albums. Fox moved to Portland, OR, worked on solo material, recorded with label-mate Jake Bellows, and started a tape label, Majestic Litter. Lewis stayed put in Omaha – The Good Life gleaned its name from Nebraska’s displaced state slogan – and played with bands Conduits and Oquoa.
Kasher began writing songs for a new album in October 2013, and the quartet – balancing their busy lives and multiple projects – reconvened from July to December 2014 to finish writing what became Everybody’s Coming Down. With the help of Ben Brodin in Omaha’s ARC Studios, The Good Life started recording in January of this year and finished the album in their respective homes. The band then turned to John Congleton (St. Vincent, Baroness, Angel Olsen, Cloud Nothings) to mix the album at his Elmwood Recording in Dallas, TX, looking to his experienced hand and uninhibited style to maintain and further realize the album’s untempered, vital sound.
And vital it is: Everybody’s Coming Down might not crack the ever-elusive code to our universal wonderings, but it’ll make you think, illuminate a new or alternative perspective, perhaps salve a lonely ache of isolation. Because we are, ultimately, all in this together – forever coming down.
$12 Advance / $15 Day of Show
Doors: 7 pm / Show: 8 pm / ALL AGES
It's a different world under the White Hot Moon: familiar but warping around the edges, at once thick with layers of swooning guitar and lightened by melodies as fine and sharp as cut glass, earnest enough to be the soundtrack of your most private, cinematic moments but with a sense of playfulness to keep it all from ever being too heavy to carry.
Ann Arbor's Pity Sex build this world inch by inch on White Hot Moon, their second album. The group, formed in 2011 by childhood friends and lifelong collaborators Sean St. Charles and Brennan Greaves, came together explicitly to try its hand at writing pop songs. St. Charles and Greaves were putting their hardcore band to rest, enlisting Britty Drake and Brandan Pierce to round out Pity Sex's line-up. Now, the band is using the foundation of 2013's celebrated Feast of Love as the framework for something bigger, stronger, and altogether more monumental. Coming off of tours with Ceremony, Eskimeaux, and Colleen Green—including a run in Australia—the band dove into the studio with Feast of Love producer Will Yip to harness that momentum into an album to showcase Pity Sex's growth.
And it shows. Guitarists Drake and Greaves spin huge webs of sound, anchored in shoegaze but branching off in a dozen directions, from fuzzed-out power-pop (“Bonhomie”) to shimmering balladry (“Dandelion”) and back again, while co-lyricist/drummer St. Charles and bassist Pierce lock into step with floor-shaking low-end and subtly counterintuitive rhythms. Drake brings an immediacy to her intimate, fearlessly personal songs—check the quietly devastating revelation of a recent loss in the opening moments of “Plum”—guided by her airy, hypnotic vocals. Meanwhile, Greaves brings gravity to St. Charles' more imagistic lyrics, his voice effortlessly seguing from baritone counterpoint for Drake to an evocative, confident croon. Together, as on highlight “What Might Soothe You,” their voices bob and weave around each other in innervating tension before melting into harmony.
It's these two distinct attitudes toward songwriting that fuel Pity Sex's creative fires, with Drake and St. Charles not so much competing as complementing one another's style, a confluence that enriches White Hot Moon and encourages compositional complexity and a shared affinity for pop solidity in equal measure. The record features some of the most directly collaborative songwriting in the band's career, and that spirit has taken them in exciting directions—often several at once, dipping into different stylistic touchstones while maintaining a constant, grounding sense of emotion throughout. For instance, St. Charles and Drake both offer takes on romantic longing in “Bonhomie” and “Burden You,” respectively, and while St. Charles’ lyrics offer a more metaphorical vision of being hung up on love (“Electric tape for you, / Bound arms and legs for you”), Drake cuts to the quick with a sharp directness (“I want your summer's salty skin, / Without yours, mine is wearing thin”) that levels the listener in equal measure.
If White Hot Moon wears its ambition on its sleeve, that's by design: the band looked to wide-screen albums by Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth for inspiration in finding a bigger sound. As St. Charles explains, “We thought a lot about pop conventions and how they work, and we're purposefully playing around with that.” In other words, when a song like “Bonhomie” takes a sudden shift from lo-fi guitar pop into a fully fledged fists-in-the-air anthem, that's the band leaning into the stylistic trappings of power-pop, energized by the diving headfirst into the genre while testing how far they can push against its boundaries. By working with familiar sounds and transforming them into fresh creations, Pity Sex makes their judicious experiments more stark in comparison. As St. Charles puts it, “It's the idea that you can take a mundane life, and it becomes different in a slightly 'off' world—like, you spend winter sitting in your room everyday, and the details around you become boring. But in those instances, the smaller peculiarities stand out. The little details become more meaningful.”
But Drake has her own approach to the songs she brings to the band. “I'm not interested in hearing about someone's mundane day-to-day life,” she says. “Love and relationships—not just romantic relationships, but in general—are things everyone can relate to, and I tend to gravitate towards universal experiences. People are the main inspiration for me.” The result: wherever you visit White Hot Moon, you'll come away refreshed, revitalized, and ready for Pity Sex to guide you along the rest of the trip.
By: Corey Beasly
Doors: 8 pm / ALL AGES / $15 Advance / $17 Day of Show
Anarchy in the U.K., indeed -- such was the ultimate goal for the fiercely political British punk band Conflict, a group fueled by its hatred of Thatcher's England, the media, the military, and the general status quo of late 20th century life. Conflict played its first gig in 1981 led by vocalist Colin Jerwood, who would remain one of the group's few constants throughout its fluid existence. Much more permanent was the group's political agenda, which was already firmly ensconced by the release of their 1983 debut It's Time to See Who's Who; songs took on topics like Vietnam, nuclear arms, and vegetarianism. The animal liberation movement, which would remain one of Conflict's central concerns throughout their career, returned to the fore on the next year's Increase the Pressure, with its cover art's focus on the Save the Seals fight.
The band's increased political involvement, often in support of unpopular causes, led a number of their concerts to be broken up by the police; a 1987 appearance at the Brixton Academy even ended in widescale rioting (as documented on the live record Turning Rebellion Into Money, named after a Clash lyric). At about the same time, ex-Crass member Steve Ignorant joined Conflict as a joint vocalist. His tenure ended in 1989, the year the band released three different records: The Final Conflict, Against All Odds, and Standard Issue 82-87, a compilation of rare singles and album cuts. After four years of inactivity, Conflict released a single in 1993, followed later in the year by the album Conclusion. The record's title proved premature, however; by 1996, the group was back on tour, in support of a re-recorded, re-titled, and re-issued It's Time to See Who's Who Now. ~ Jason
DOORS: 8 PM / ADVANCE TICKETS $12 / ALL AGES
In late 1977, Special Duties was founded by school friends Steve Norris (Aka Steve Duty) Steve Green (Aka Steve Arrogant) and Nigel Baker under the name X-pelled.
The three were punks who attended the same school, but the idea of forming their own band came when they saw The Adverts in Colchester. The fact that the three schoolboys couldn't play and didn't own any instruments didn't discourage them, as they realised that was not stopping hundreds of bands up and down the country from forming punk groups.
Initially the boys decided to put Arrogant on vocals, Duty on guitar and Baker on bass and penned two songs "Nothing Out Of Us" and "No Money, No Scandals" which were soon dropped from the set. In the early days the line up changed a few times and saw Baker on Vocals, Arrogant on Guitar and local punks Carl and Paddy given a try out on Guitar and Bass respectively. Sometime later, Stuart Bray joins the band on drums.
The name of the band was changed from X-pelled to Special Duties when a box of around 200 badges with "Special Duties" printed on them came into their possession after they had allegedly been stolen from a school in Colchester. The band decided they could save money on getting badges made by simply changing their name and so Special Duties was born.
Special Duties have also toured in the US with a tour of the East Coast in 1998 supported by some of the best Punk Bands in the US namely The Casualties, Violent Society, The Virus, The Unseen and Banner of Hope. The finest moment of the tour was getting to play at one of the homes of Punk, CBGB's. A sell out gig with the doors being left open so the punks on the street who couldn't get in at least got to see and hear the band! The show was recorded for the ‘Live at CBGB's' album. The great reaction the band received in the US resulted in the boys touring the West Coast in 2001 supported by Violent Society, Oppressed Logic and some of California's best Punk Bands.
Since reforming in 1995, six singles have been released plus a further four albums, '77 in 97', ‘The Punk Singles Collection', ‘Live at CBGB's and Get Back Records from Italy released Distorted Truth.
$8 / 8 PM / ALL AGES
"Dirty distorted country" -- Dark Party
"Imagine Kim Deal influenced by Nirvana (rather than the other way around)" -- Los Angeles Magazine
"Images of Gun Club 'Fire Of Love' era and early X" -- Buddyhead
"Recalls the early ragged glory of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or the Black Angels" -- Buzzbands LA
"Haunted surf rock, road trip blues and 60's-sounding psychedelia" -- L.A. Weekly
"A dirty country-blues sound... a darker, scuzzier, more psychedelic Holly Golightly" -- Kalamitat
"Scuzzy dark country minimalism... ghostly lo-fi vocals and Black Angels-sounding psychedelia." -- Tom Tom Magazine
DOORS @ 6:30 PM / $21 ADV / $23 DAY / $25 BOX OFFICE / ALL AGES
For the members of Mercury Records group Parachute, the name of their third album, Overnight, could well be a sly commentary on the hard work and commitment it's taken for them to experience the success that's been building over the last four years and first two albums. Their 2009 debut Losing Sleep featured the Top 15 single, "She is Love" (boasting more than 6.5 million views), while 2011's The Way It Was included the #1 iTunes Rock Song "Kiss Me Slowly" (co-written with Lady Antebellum) and the Top 15 hit "Something to Believe In."
Or it could refer to the late evenings put in by chief songwriter Will Anderson, burning the midnight oil, writing in his new Nashville base, after moving from the band's hometown of Charlottesville, VA (where they were discovered and signed to Dave Matthews Band's Red Light Management out of college). Anderson composed more than 50 songs for the album with a variety of collaborators, including Ryan Tedder (the first single, "Can't Help"), as well as Grammy winner Chris DeStefano [Kelly Clarkson] and Ashley Gorley [Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban] on the title track.
"Even though there's plenty of pressure to break through on your third album, the actual recording process was much less stressful," says Will about the band's sessions at Ocean Way in Nashville with producer Oren Yoel, a young contemporary who has worked with hip-hop phenom Asher Roth as well as Miley Cyrus, among others. "All of us were on the same wavelength. We all kind of knew exactly what we wanted without having to say it out loud. There was a weird sense of peace that we knew where we were going and where we needed to be."
From the pop fervor of "Can't Help" and the powerful simplicity of "Hurricane," composed on acoustic guitar by Will after a long frustrating day, to the ‘80s Phil Collins-meets-U2 flair of "Waiting for that Call" and the slow Peter Gabriel/John Mayer jam of "The Other Side," Parachute prove adept at combining guitarist Nate McFarland's Edge-influenced arena-rock guitar licks with Will's melodic sense of what will resonate with their passionate fan base.
It's no surprise for anyone who has followed the band's history. Will has been playing with drummer Johnny Stubblefield, bassist Alex Hargrave and saxophone/keyboardist Kit French since they were high school classmates in Charlottesville almost 10 years ago. Anderson met Nate while attending University of Virginia together, and the guitarist joined the band six years ago.
"We're just now getting to know one another as musicians as well as we know each other as people," says Will. "We wanted to capture a sound in the studio that reflected us as a band. And we all know which parts each of us had to play to get that sound."
The band's stylistic palette can run the range from old-school legends like Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen to newer acts like U2, Coldplay, Weezer, Ben Folds, Maroon 5 and John Mayer.
With producer Yoel, the band has even begun to stretch the boundaries, with Will's spoken word vocals adding almost a hip-hop flavor to a new song called "Didn't See It Coming," about an actress friend of theirs in Hollywood excited to land a gig, only to discover it was an X-rated feature.
"That's probably the catchiest song I've ever written," he says. "I just laid down this spoken-word track, thinking we'd replace it later, but everyone loved it so much, we kept it on."
Anderson is most proud of "Hurricane," a song he wrote before going to sleep by strumming an acoustic guitar.
"It's like the feeling you get when you think you're never going to be able to write another song," explains Will. "Once I started, it all came spilling out."
Anderson credits guitarist Nate with creating parts that were "just perfect" for each song. "He really nailed it, with a unique spin to every song that made them epic, but at the same time, within a pop framework. That's something we've always tried to do, melding his rock guitar to my sensibilities, making it work both for the arena and within the melodic sense of strong hooks. I think we really nailed it this time."
Having played more than 400 shows over the last few years, touring around the country with everyone from NeedtoBreathe to Andy Grammer, Parachute's live show continues to grow and impress. They've also played before several million at a New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, as well as appearing on NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, ABC's Good Morning America and Jimmy Kimmel Live and CBS' The Early Show. The band's songs have been featured on MTV's The City along with CW's One Tree Hill, Vampire Diaries and 90210.
"It's so nice to have three albums' worth of material to choose from in concert," says Will, while the band has always played an eclectic variety of covers, from Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Loving" to vintage tracks from Elton John, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, the Commodores and Motown. "We're just now hitting our stride as a live band. We're better musicians who have come to trust one another. We all have our pocket and fill it. But we still have a long way to go."
Overnight has a little something for everyone. Longtime fans will recognize their favorite band, with a fresh sound bound to intrigue newcomers.
"The last album was like taking a brand-new car straight off the lot," says Will. "This album is just as fun to drive, but it's like a vintage Mustang, a little more muscle and grittier, built to last."
STUDDED LEFT (Indian Jewelry), SSPS (Nation, Excepter - NYC), MIGUEL FLACO, MARAMURESH, DJ JOHN CALERO
DOORS: 6:30 PM / $12 ADV / $14 DAY OF / $16 BOX OFFICE
Laura Stevenson is finally learning not to worry. After more than a year of national and worldwide touring following the release of her critically acclaimed album Wheel, both headlining, and alongside such varied acts as Against Me!, The Go-Go's, Kevin Devine, Tim Kasher of Cursive, and The Gaslight Anthem, the songwriter made the move from her between-tour home base of Brooklyn, to upstate New York's Hudson River Valley. There, she rented a nineteenth- century Victorian, a former brothel in a cement-mining town-turned hippie-enclave, and converted the attic into a makeshift studio. It was in this space that she and her band went to work arranging and demoing the eleven songs she had written that would make up Cocksure, Stevenson's fourth album. The record features musicians Mike Campbell, Alex Billig and Peter Naddeo, who in various incarnations have performed with her for over seven years, as well as newcomer Samantha Niss, a long-time Hudson Valley resident and the veritable go-to drummer of the region.
8 PM / $5 FOR 21+, $8 FOR UNDER 21 / ALL AGES WELCOME
DOORS: 7 PM / $10 ADV / $15 DOOR / ALL AGES
Portal Frame: http://facebook.com/portalframeband
Ari & The Skeletones: https://www.facebook.com/Skeletones
DOORS @ 7 PM / ALL AGES
"During the writing of Drinking From A Salt Pond, the band admits to flaring tempers and tense operations as they worked to redefine their sound, goals, and relationships…"
Run River North will be the first to tell you: it has largely been an uphill climb for the indie rock sextet from Los Angeles, a hero's journey full of odds-defying opportunities seized amidst rocky naysayers and the snagging brambles of band life. And now, with their second full-length album Drinking From A Salt Pond, Run River North are poised to push forward and create their own wake as a major voice in today's music landscape.
Since the band's beginnings just over four years ago, their rise has been steadily spectacular, marked by appearances on national television, sold-out shows at historic venues, tours with rock and roll royalty and heaps of praise from fans and critics alike. As they blossomed, they embraced their initially folk-driven sound, which found its harmonic home alongside rootsy, foot stomping, sing-along-leading peers like Mumford & Sons, The Head and the Heart, and Of Monsters and Men. Powered by the acoustic-guitar-and-vocals songwriting of frontman Alex Hwang, their 2014 self-titled debut record, produced by Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, Modest Mouse, Band of Horses), was released with their lineup rounded out by the strings duo of Daniel Chae and Jennifer Rim, Joe Chun on bass, Sally Kang on keys, and John Chong on drums.
As time and tours passed, the six lives spent in close-quarters began to grind the gears a little differently; their whole dynamic began to change. "When we became a band, we mostly played Alex's songs in band form," says Chae. "Since then we've all put our musical input into it, so the music has changed a lot."
"We were tired of me on acoustic guitar and everybody singing harmonies," says Hwang. "We were hitting a ceiling, and it wasn't fun. We had always agreed this band was six-ways, for better or worse. So at the end of last year, after being in the van constantly, we said, 'no more touring, let's write new songs.'"
"We had to grow up pretty fast as a band," says Chong. "So this past year, there were times when different perspectives and priorities have butted heads."
During the writing of Drinking From A Salt Pond, the band admits to flaring tempers and tense operations as they worked to redefine their sound, goals and relationships. "We've had a lot of hating each other, almost kicking people out of the band," says Hwang. "We're being honest and that openness is one of the main thrusts for the album. Embracing the bitter with the sweet, not trying to hide the crappy parts…the crappy parts helped make the good." Being open about its faults, the band recognizes how the turmoil has helped Run River North create something beautiful.
"The record we just made, it's all the difficult stuff we went through so there's a darker tone to the music. It works," says Chae.
One of the first steps in leaving behind their folk roots was to work with new collaborators. Instead of the reverb-heavy, northwest sound of Ek, they recorded in Los Angeles with Lars Stalfors (Cold War Kids, HEALTH, Deap Vally, Matt and Kim) at the production helm. Stalfors opened their eyes to the upbeat energy and electric tone of indie bands like The Walkmen. Throughout Salt Pond the indie rock influence can be heard, with the band nodding inspiration to everyone from Cage the Elephant and Kings of Leon to The National, Death Cab for Cutie, and Cold War Kids, whose studio in San Pedro, CA the band borrowed to make the album. Also, in a move encouraged by their record label, Nettwerk, Hwang and Chae were sent to Nashville for a week in April 2015 to work on a few new tracks with two different co-writers, Lincoln Parish (formerly of Cage the Elephant) and the Kings of Leon collaborator Nick Brown.
"It was weird but at the same time it was really encouraging," says Hwang of the co-writing. "It was like bringing our demos to a blind date."
The first song from the Nashville sessions was "Run Or Hide," co-written with Parish, and from first listen it's clear that Run River North are exploring bombastic new territory. Hwang, Chae, and Parish came up with an organic way of working that was based on jamming and vibing together, and once the song's melody was nailed down, the rest came easily. It was immediately hard-hitting than any previous song from the band, with a discernible strut serving as a sonic contrast. When the demo was sent home to LA, the rest of the band was shocked.
"Almost everyone else was really scared," says Hwang, "'this is not your voice, this is not who we are.' I was confident it was a really good song and that we were gonna keep it. There's nothing more aggressive on the record, and that groove on the verses is bigger than the band. The band can't contain the song."
"I loved it!" says Chong emphatically. "Alex has a very wide range of emotion when he sings—soft, whispery things; really bombastic; rough—this song showcases all of that. I got really excited. When we recorded it, it really showcases more groove. Joe, our bass player, is solid, and the way the melody is created in the verses really adds to that. There's a really cool contrast happening, but the choruses hit hard."
The other song written in Tennessee was the Nick Brown co-penned "Can't Come Down," a track with pop qualities that the band does not shy away from recognizing. For that they leaned on Brown heavily, who served almost as a mentor to Hwang and Chae during the sessions, teaching them about pop hooks, authenticity, and Southern tradition. Deciding to go all in on a pop song, the trio rallied behind Brown's catchy melodies and licks, and what they ended up with is a happy medium that "still sounds as Run River North as possible," according to Chong, while simultaneously reaching for the rafters.
"We really gelled with Nick Brown," says Hwang. "We had the same idea: 'We have enough songs that exemplify us, so let's try our hand at writing a pop hook.' With that mentality we came up with 'Can't Come Down.' Nick wrote the hook, Daniel and Nick wrote the music, and a heavy collaboration on lyrics from everyone. It's the first song I ever sang the word 'baby' in."
With those songs firmly planting the band's flag in new ground, it is Hwang's "29" that may be the best indicator of the band Run River North are becoming. A piano and drum fueled anthem examining the ups and downs of transition, it finds the singer posing multiple existential questions at once. "Everyone's always talking about how if you will something, it's gonna happen. But, sometimes it doesn't!" says Hwang. "That was a realization I wanted to play with: 'Your words are cold like the wind…' It's kind of like saying, 'I don't care what you think,' but it's also a reflection about my words. What I do can be just as insignificant as anyone else. So what are you gonna do about it? You're 29. 'I know it's home, I know it hurts/I know I'll end up at the bottom/What if I leave?' What if we go on this tour and we don't end up anywhere? The brutal question is, who cares, and why does it matter? Not answering that in the song really helps. The music is still upbeat, it still has the 'oh's' going on, it's an anthemic thing. I'm still energetic, I'm not some old dude at 29."
"29" was written on electric guitar, a tool Hwang has been using more frequently since the end of the debut album's touring cycle. Originally intended for a more somber feel, at the suggestion of their producer Stalfors, the tempo rose to meet Hwang's intonations. "It became this song with so much energy," says Chong, "it's probably the fastest song we've ever done as a band. It's new territory for us; it's very fun. It's a good transition, with lulled verses and really upbeat instrumentals and choruses. This is a good appetizer for our old fans, as this is who we've become."
Embracing their natural growth and learning to ride the waves of their personal and musical evolutions with open hearts and nimble hands, Run River North have created a sophomore album that will propel them to the forefront of today's landscape. Although at times the rushing water of their rise will pool into depths tough to swallow, they have learned to lean on each other and to trust themselves along the way in order to make something lasting and truly beautiful.
"From the start, we always said we wanted to play on the biggest stages possible," says Hwang. "That's still the same. But it isn't some self-indulgent dream of becoming rock stars; we still want to support our families with this, we still have the parents that sacrificed for us and we want to honor them. For us as a band, at times it's felt like we've been drinking from a salt pond—and yet, we still created something pretty fresh that we like and are proud of."
DOORS: 7 PM / $12 ADVANCE / $14 DAY OF / $16 BOX OFFICE
Few of us make much out of the endless weekend hours we spend together when we're young. Draping ourselves throughout our friends' houses and airing out the angst and dreams and heartbreaks that will shape us before they fade away with time, we may make mixtapes, or weave friendship bracelets, or simply craft inside jokes and rosy memories to cherish in years down the line. But for Dublin folk rock quintet Little Green Cars, those Sunday afternoons may have built the most important adventure they'll ever take.
Fresh off a whirlwind month of touring that included several CMJ showcases - ones that caught the attention of outlets like NPR and the New York Times - the band will be spending the next few months leading up to Absolute Zero's release preparing themselves for whatever comes next. Because once it drops, all they'll be able to do is to keep their hands outstretched and wait patiently for listeners to reach back.
DOORS @ 8 PM / ALL AGES
First formed as "Dolmen" in 1989 by Shaftiel (vocals/guitar/bass) and Equitant Ifernain (lead guitar, bass), the black/death metal band Absu hails from the least likely of extreme metal watering grounds: Dallas, Texas. By 1991, the name change to Absu (borrowed from ancient Mesopotamian beliefs) had taken effect, two demos, "Immortal Sorcery" and "Return of the Ancients" were in the can, and independent Gothic Records was showing interest in the self-proclaimed "mythological occult metal" group. Drummer/vocalist Proscriptor (a.k.a. Russ R. Givens) joined shortly after the release of the following year's The Temples of Offal E.P., and his academic lyrics and songwriting began to dominate the band, starting with 1993's full-length debut Barathrum. Absu then signed with France's famed Osmose Productions, which issued their subsequent efforts, Sun of Tiphareth (1995), ...And Shineth Unto the Cold Cometh (E.P., 1995), The Third Storm of Cythraul (1997), and In the Eyes of Ioldánach (E.P., 1998). Each of these displayed increasingly elaborate studies of obscure mysticism (Sumerian, Gaelic, you name it!), and, and led to tours with the likes of Impaled Nazarene and Enslaved, helping Absu carve a position of huge respect within black metal circles. 2001's long-awaited Tara focused on Celtic legend and obtained even greater acclaim, but was the last to feature longtime member Equitant. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia