“Down in a Minute,” the second track on Chicago-based Soulnoise’s debut EP Future plays almost like a recap of what’s brought the city to the musical mainstream over the last few years. There are sharp bars, a soulful sax solo, and rich, complex guitar that add flavor to the song’s killer hook and pristine drums.
On Future, the group succeed in blending their vast influences into a project that is easy to connect with emotionally and still feels distinct. So many artists nowadays blend genres that trying to distill too many into a single project can leave a group without a country so to speak, but the rock edge and consistently stellar guitar helps ground Soulnoise.
“Take Me Over” is a powerful tell-all that focuses as much on battling substance abuse as it does one’s own anxieties and inner demons. The trap-tinged drums create a grittiness that’s well-suited for the varied talents of both MC Jamal Gaines and singer Jonah McGowan.
All in all, Future is focused and purposeful, a strong mission statement from a group with real talent and serious aspirations.
With intricate guitar and pounding drums, the debut single from Soulnoise is a genre-blending trip. Comprised of Jonah McGowan, Lucas Messore, and Jamal Gaines, the trio linked up in Chicago (Gaines’ hometown, Messore is from Miami and McGowan from London), and their music has the combination of soulful introspection and rap edge that has helped the city’s music scene reach the national conversation over the past few years. “Hold Me Down” is an inspiring anthem, and a showcase of the group’s unique hybrid sound that is clearly a product of the members’ far-flung origins. Part story of adversity, part inspiring underdog triumph, McGowan and Gaines take turns trading tales over searing guitar from Messore and Jon Perkins.
Even the story of how “Hold Me Down” came together is one of serious dedication. “We basically could only record in the studio when it wasn’t booked with clients. which meant that we had to record like through the night and late as fuck on random days,” McGowan explained. “So we were all like taking the El late night to get to the studio, it was a hustle for sure.”
The track is the first off their Future EP, which drops August 22nd. If the single is any indication, expect more genre-defying, fist-pumping tunes from Soulnoise.
Chicago’s Empty Bottle is the quintessential venue that you catch a band in before they break out. It’s hot, dim and a little cramped, boasting a roughly 50-50 split between bar area and stage.
It’s also the kind of venue where a band can’t hide behind gimmicks. There’s no room for an elaborate light show or props. Either your music is up to par or the audience is in for a long night. Luckily, from the opening notes of their set it was clear Wet was up to the challenge.
The Brooklyn trio opened with “Deadwater,” the lead single off their long-awaited major label debut Don’t You, due out early next year.
“Deadwater” is one of Wet’s sweetest, warmest records, and it glistened in such an intimate setting. Joe Valle’s electronic drums boomed, serving as the exoskeleton for Marty Sulkow’s gooey, understated guitar.
Wet hasn’t released much music of late, but even the tracks off their 2013 eponymous EP sounded fresh and vibrant. While some synth pop and indie R&B groups get exposed in a live setting, the sheer talent of each of the band’s members was on full display.
Singer Kelly Zutrau shined particularly bright. Her soaring vocals are the band’s keystone, and she proved that she has the gravitas to lead a scintillating performance.
“Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” was a particular highlight. The song hinges on a sense of vulnerability and honesty that isn’t easy to convey, but Zutrau had the few hundred in attendance swaying in stunned silence.
Fan favorites “You’re the Best” and “No Lie” were equally impressive in their own right.
There wasn’t much in the way of stage banter from Zutrau and co., but that may’ve simply been in keeping with their aesthetic. A band like Wet can afford to let their music speak for itself. The set was crisp and efficient, but you got the undeniable sense the crowd would’ve just as happy to watch them run it back.
Nowadays, there are hundreds of bands out there vying for “next up” status, but Wet’s mesmerizing live show is another reason to consider them a cut above the rest of the SoundCloud darlings you see on your newsfeed.
You may not have seen Mike Posner around a lot lately, but his sound is still shaping pop radio nonetheless. Working behind the scenes and penning hit songs like Maroon 5’s “Sugar,” Posner has proven to be relevant even when his own music has been repeatedly shelved. Now, with a long-awaited sophomore album finally on the way, the Dukie who made it big off “Cooler Than Me” is staging a comeback.
As part of his rebirth, Posner has been hitting the road and holding surprise pop-up concerts across the U.S. affectionately called “Ninja Shows.” Last night, Mike made a pit stop in Chicago’s beautiful Lincoln Park, strumming new songs and old hits alike to one of the best views of the city’s skyline.
The set was extremely intimate (there were maybe just north of 100 in attendance) and a bit awkward (people jogging and doing lunges nearby), but you couldn’t help but get a taste of magic in the air. Mike was honest and authentic. He was was close enough to reach out and touch; close enough to hear without monitors or an amp. And whether he was doing a verse a capella or taking photos and giving out hugs after the show, Mike Posner was as entertaining and genuine as ever, as if he had never missed a beat.
Listen to four cuts from Posner’s upcoming album below.
Pitchfork Music Festival drops their 2015 Lineup featuring Wilco, Chance The Rapper, and Sleater-Kinney
Pitchfork Music Festival is the latest to drop their 2015 lineup. The Chicago-based concert, which takes place in Union Park from July 17-19, will include top bills of Wilco, Chance The Rapper, and Sleater-Kinney. Other notable acts include Future Islands, CHVRCHES, Run The Jewels, The New Pornographers, Caribou, and Mac DeMarco, among others.
Single day tickets as well as three-day passes are now available over on the festival’s official website.
If you’re heading to P4k, who are you most excited to check out?
A 21st century tale of finding true love. Proud to have Chicago represented so positively by King Louie.
It’s been a while, Sunset. Nice to see you again. I’m back. And what better way to come back than with some extra ratchet Chief Keef. Ahhh, the simple ignorance of Keef’s lyrics, so refreshing.
Aylen teams up with Dotcom to add to some fat bass to this hood anthem. If you’re unfamiliar with The Chief, read up here (Via The Fader). As a Chicagoan myself, the hip hop scene is both really promising yet devastatingly representative of the out of hand gang violence that has plagued the Windy City for decades. Kanye often references the issue in his music–“It’s a war going on outside we ain’t safe from, I feel the pain in my city wherever I go, 314 soldiers died in Iraq, 509 died in Chicago”–so it’s interesting that he and the G.O.O.D. Music crew would put an official remix of the song on Cruel Summer, given Keef’s clear ties to gang violence in the city Kanye calls home.
Regardless, Aylen and Dotcom give this song a filthy little fixup, and the result is facemelting.
Check out more of Aylen’s work here, and get rowdy to “I Don’t Like” this weekend.
Oh, and before I forget, do yourself a favor and like this on Hype Machine. You know you want to.
Sunday at Lollapalooza marked one of the first times I felt old at a concert setting. I mean, sure, festivals like this are typically filled with the young and restless, but this time shit got generational on me.
I was a face in the crowd in the middle of the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis set, my first this day, when the Seattle emcee probed his fans with a question. “How many of you guys were born in the 70s?” A small murmur responded at best. Then he asked, “How many of you guys were born in the 80s?” A decent cheer followed, including myself (I’m 23, by the way.) Finally, Macklemore beckoned, “how many of you guys were born in the 90s?” And the whole crowd erupted.
Well, at least I can say I’m still hip, right?
Check out the sounds from a few of the performances I got the chance to see on Sunday below, as well as some visuals of Jack White absolutely killin’ it in front the Chicago skyline and a good chunk of its population.
Macklemore X Ryan Lewis – Wings
JUSTICE – Horsepower
Childish Gambino – Break (AOTL)
Jack White – Sixteen Saltines (Live)
FRANK OCEAN MAY HAVE STOLEN THE SHOW AT ALL OF LOLLAPALOOZA
Although it was the shortest, Saturday was hands down my favorite day of Lollapalooza weekend. We got news around 3:30 in the afternoon that the festival was being suspended indefinitely for dangerous weather conditions. Downtown Chicago was an absolutely mess as an upwards of 100,000 concertgoers were haplessly stranded onto the city streets, wondering if they’d ever get back into the festival grounds (it was actually hilarious to see all the drunk/high/rolling people get smacked in the face by “the real world” as they had to exit the alcohol and drug safe haven of Lolla.)
It rained, it poured and the Windy City lived up to its nickname as a monsoon washed right over Grant Park. But, the storm passed and the masses were finally let back into the soggy grounds by 6:00PM. The show must go on, right?
I got the chance to see a lot of ultra-cool, mega-EDM acts this day, including Calvin Harris and Avicii in all their LED-lit glory. But you know what? Even with all the sub-bass, flashing lights and dime pieces dancing around me, none of it even came close to the satisfaction I got from witnessing Frank Ocean perform.
Mr. Ocean was something totally rare in the overwhelmingly loud, busy and high-energy vibe you typically get from music festivals like Lollapalooza. When I was standing there with my eyes closed tight at Frank, it didn’t matter how loud Avicii was bumping house just next door. It felt like it was just me and him. That’s how intimate a Frank Ocean show is. And if you think his voice was stunning on the album, it miraculously gets better live. It’s truly passion in its rawest form, and Frank may have stolen the show at all of Lollapalooza for me.
Check out the sounds from the rest of Satuday below, and enjoy visuals from the always-great Red Hot Chili Peppers performing, “Under The Bridge.”
The Weeknd – Rolling Stone
Frank Ocean – Pyramids
AVICII – Two Million
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under The Bridge (Live)
Holla Lolla! So, just like I did for Bonnaroo, I’ll be creating playlists and collecting video footage of this past weekend’s Lollapalooza–day by day–for you guys to relive (or discover for the first time.) This was my first Lollapalooza in 4 years, and I noticed a lot had changed since my initial footsteps onto Grant Park back when I was just in high school. So, that inspired me to do a little research and scribe a bit on on the festival’s transformation over the years in the context of music as a whole. Check out my insights below, or skip to the bottom for some music selections made up of acts I got the chance to see, as well as video of Friday’s headliner, The Black Keys, performing “Lonely Boy.”
THE EVOLUTION OF LOLLAPALOOZA
Since its inaugural notes hit the air in 1991, Perry Farrell’s Lollapalooza has had its ups and downs. The festival’s initial success was synonymous with the rise of alternative rock in the early 90s. So, when the alt scene began to lose steam later in the decade, Lolla did too.
But in 2003, Farrell’s festival was staging a comeback. After a lukewarm couple of years, Lollapalooza found a new home in Grant Park, Chicago and heated thangs up with expansive lineups that delivered tunes to casual listeners and rabid aficionados alike.
Today, Lollapalooza is a three-day, sun-soaked (well, most of the time) monster of a festival that hosts nearly 300,000 concertgoers in the heart of the concrete and steel jungle that is Chicago, Illinois. And, it’s only getting bigger. In recent years, the festival has landed on soils as far as Chile, Brazil and most recently, Israel.
I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that Lolla is a pretty big deal. Culturally, it represents a musical hotbed where up-and-comers and seasoned veterans can both share the spotlight (think Chief Keef and Black Sabbath.) And, I think in a lot of ways, big ticket music fests like Lollapalooza are great temperature readers for where music is at as a whole.
So, what is Lollapalooza saying about that “whole” of music today? The answer can be found at Perry’s Tent. That is, the honored stage which is named after the festival’s founder and also happens to be the lone platform at Lollapalooza completely dedicated to electronic dance music.
You see, Perry’s wasn’t always a stage. In 2008, when it first emerged, Perry’s Tent was literally a tent, and a relatively small one at that. Jump around to present time, and Perry’s has blown off the roof, laced the stage with sizzling LED lights and practically doubled its viewing capacity.
Yeah, I know. It’s not news that EDM’s popularity is booming in America. But, my real point is that big, institutionalized music festivals like Lollapalooza are an instrumental part of why dance music is becoming more and more mainstream (just like it helped the growth of alternative music in the 90s.)
The transformation of Perry’s Tent—and the evolution of Lollapalooza in general—is ironic in many ways. Perry Farrel’s Lollapalooza of the 90s stood for all things indie—not mainstream. Yet today, Lolla represents a diverse palate of music, from relaxing indie folk to heart-throbbing dubstep.
A lot of people might tell you that Farrel compromised Lollapalooza’s former integrity by opening the flood gates to mainstream music, but you know what? I say it’s a beautiful thing. Where else can you mosh to At The Drive-In, chill out to Florence and the Machine and get your rageface on to Bassnectar?
Not at Lollapalooza 1991.
Porter Robinson – Language
Nero – Promises
Bassnectar – Vava Voom (ft. Lupe Fiasco) (Vinyl Version)
The Black Keys – Lonely Boy (Live)
I love/hate starting posts with these kind of introductions. I love it because it means I’m excited about the music, I hate it because it means I dropped the ball. Anyways, I’ll say it, as I’ve said before; I’m sorry. By not introducing Sunset readers to the incredibly talented Kids These Days I have let down my hometown, Chicago, the windy city the Kids call home, and I have let you guys down for not sharing some of the best new up and comers out there.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to Nico Segal, one of the very talented Kids. He plays trumpet for Kids These Days, but is also a moving, intricate wordsmith; complex and emphatic. He recently released a solo mixtape titled Illasoul: Shades of Blue, and it is truly an incredible project.
I guess most people would call Nico Segal a rapper, right? I can’t, though. What he’s doing is different–it’s more poetic, I guess, than what I would be accustomed to hearing from a “rapper.” This is true not just in the way he writes (and good lord, the young man can make magic with his words), but in the way he speaks.
This is clear on “Music Found Me,” which is just Nico’s voice sans instrumental–simply a poem. But not a simple poem, to be sure; I spent an hour today listening to it on repeat, and each time I heard a new line, found a new meaning. “My world is made of bouncing rhythms and traveling pitches,” Segal informs his listener. And so, really, is his voice; weaving and flowing through rhythmic rhymes and intricate tales of his hometown, his life, his artistic visions and journeys, and his unquenchable desire for poetry and the artistic craft of spoken word.
I Once was Lost, but Now I’m Found. Was Blind, but Now I See; Music Found Me
Kids These Days will be a big deal. If they’re not, it says something very disappointing about the music industry. They are incredibly talented, and easily one of the most moving acts I have heard in a long time. Vic Mensa, the lead rapper of KTD, is featured on both Clear Eyes and Come Closer.
It’s been a while since my voice looked at me with clear eyes/ It’s been a while since my voice became shaky with sniffled cries
He has a beautiful voice and is also an incredibly gifted rapper and singer, but look up some KTD–literally every member of the group is extremely talented at what they do. I can’t remember the last time I listened this intently to every word an artist has said on a mixtape. I found myself completely entranced by Nico’s words on Music Found Me, Clear Eyes, and Musica Mi Vida.
“But of course corpses that never breathed art before will forever reek of remorse/ for pledging allegiance to ignorance and price and pristine politicians, demeaners of indifference/ How many presidents were musicians? People aren’t blind when it comes to politics they just don’t listen”
Nico and Vic both have an old school, bluesy sound to their words and voices, so they go along very well with the Dilla, Thelonious, and MF Doom classic, jazz infused production.
I don’t know what else to say about Illasoul. You just have to listen to it guys, it’s necessary. Let me know what you think, too, because I’m curious. Am I giving them too much credit? Are they as good as I make them out to be? I hope so. I believe so.
“My Rabbi is Miles Davis”
15 years before Kanye West was one half of The Throne, eight years before he released The College Dropout and became one of the most influential hip hop artists ever to live, 12 years before he was named “Hottest MC in the Game,” way before he sold over 25 million digital songs in the United States (making him second for solo male artists on the list and sixth overall for best selling digital artists), he was a young man in Chicago.
Even back then, though, his talent was impossible to ignore. This is a rare footage of him from 1996. Enjoy.