San Francisco

Going to Symbiosis Re:Union?! Here’s a crash course for the Lineup this year.

Planning on hitting Symbiosis 10 Year Anniversary this September?!  You’ve absolutely made the right decision.  After almost 16 years of events under my belt in the realm of the electronic music festival world here on the Left Coast, I have constantly said now for years that Symbiosis is by far, THE BEST, hands down, no questions asked.  The venues they choose, the attention to detail in production, the crowd they draw, the incredibley diverse lineup, and more make this your one festival to never miss when they actually decide to throw one.  It’s usually once every two years with a one back to back occurrence in 2012/2013.

Due to the fact that their lineups are so massive and diverse, you may not know who or what it is you’re looking at exactly when it comes to these artists.  That is why I am here today.  Here is my Official Crash Course to the Symbiosis 2015 Lineup:

:: ABSOLUTELY NOT TO BE MISSED ::

Nicolas Jaar (DJ Set)
http://www.nicolasjaar.net/

If you don’t know who Nicolas Jaar is at this point, you’ve obviously been on another planet for the past few years.  Since about 2011 Nico has made an incredible dent in the more mature and jazz influenced side of electronica.  Literally everything he touches is gold, and thankfully, he just started his own imprint, Other People, to further the exploration into the world of his tastes.  On Other People you can also find artists like Valentin StipDarkside, and other classy acts.  His live show I saw a few years back was nothing short of amazing, and as much as I’m not usually into DJ Sets from prolific producers, Nico should bring it proper as this year’s main headliner.

CocoRosie
http://cocorosiemusic.com/
https://soundcloud.com/larealcocorosie

Ahhh yes, the two beautiful lovely ladies that make up the Indie Folktronica group CocoRosie.  I was turned onto these lovelies around 2009 and dabbled a bit into their music with a girlfriend at the time.  They ended up passing through Seattle and I bought us tickets to go.  Suffice to say, that show made me a firm believer.  What really caught me was how incredibly unique and avant-garde their whole performance was – I’d never seen or heard anything like it.  They had a whole table with an array of children’s toys, plastic music boxes, and more that were implemented into almost every song played.  These beauties are not to be missed!

Tipper
http://tippermusic.net/
https://soundcloud.com/tippermusic

Dave Tipper.  The man who is almost solely responsible for the squelching Left Coast bass music sound.  A god amongst music producers.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have watched Dave play back in his humble beginnings right after he moved to Seattle in 2003 or so.  From the moment I saw him scratching with a CDJ over his own live beats, I knew something special had just landed on the West Coast.  Over the past 15 years now Tipper has released countless EP’s, a few LP’s, a surround sound masterpiece, and most recently kicked a heart bypass surgery in the ass!  Thank the gods Dave is still with us.  If you want to see this man in his absolute element, do not miss EITHER of his sets here at Symbiosis this year.  His downtempoish set during the eclipse at the 2012 Pyramid Lake Symbiosis was and still is in my Top 10 dance-at-a-festival moments EVER.

Four Tet
http://www.fourtet.net/

Kieren Hebden is one of my favorite musicians.  Ever.  The man has attributed to some of my very favorite songs, that have been on repeat now for fifteen years!  We’ve seen Kieren’s Four Tet moniker go from 99’s ‘Dialogue‘ minimal electronic jazzfest to 2005’s quirky downtempo IDM filled ‘Everything Ecstatic‘ to teaming up with Burial in 2009 for some of the sexiest slow techno ever to 2010’s gorgeous slow house love fest on ‘There Is Love In You‘ only to end up here in 2015 where he just released ‘Morning/Evening‘, two twenty minute long Hindu chanting micro-house ambient opuses.  Oh yah, in 2011 he did some work with Thom Yorke as well.  Basically the man is a genius, and makes amazing music.  Constantly.  I’ve seen Four Tet now a handful of times, and depending on what style of set he’s booked for (Live vs DJ), the level of awesome can vary.  That said, you’ll still more than likely see me in front of the stage when he plays!

Sylvan Esso
http://www.sylvanesso.com/

I was just recently turned onto Sylvan Esso through my What.CD geekings.  They’re straight up in this whole new wave of Hipster Folktronica, and I absolutely love it.  Don’t know too much else about them except that their LP debut from last year is a must hear.  Be careful, it may be on repeat in your room soon!

Ibeyi
http://www.ibeyi.fr/

So I just looked up these 19 year old twin beauties today.  Instantly fell in love.  If you liked the Sylvan Esso vibe above, you’ll definitely dig Ibeyi’s Afro-Cuban take on Hipster Folktronica.  I’ll definitely be trying to catch these ladies at Symbi.

The Acid
http://wearetheacid.com/

https://soundcloud.com/the-acid-sounds

Like the past few projects mentioned here, The Acid I just recently discovered.  Leaning on the Hipstertronic side of things, they are in that same vibe minus the Folk aspects.  You could almost call it ambient lyrical moody house/techno…or something.  Regardless, I just listened to their first LP ‘Liminal’ and totally dug it.  I’ll definitely want to check this live electronic trio out this year!

Pantha Du Prince
http://www.panthaduprince.com/
https://soundcloud.com/panthaduprince

Normally you would only see Pantha at something like Decibel Festival (Seattle) or Mutek (Montreal), and not at some hippie styled festival here in Cali.  This is an absolutely perfect example of why I consider Symbiosis to be the best Left Coast festival – booking artists of this nature.  Pantha separates himself from the usual techno world with his ever so sleepy beats making you feel like you’re floating through the falling snow of some Norse country in the dead heart of winter.  By infusing all sorts of bell and glass instrumentation, the music while thick underneath, sounds heavenly and full of light.  I was fortunate enough to stage manage for Pantha at Decibel a few years back, and was astounded when he set up his rig – a computer, a midi controller, and sixteen different pieces of glassware – all randomly filled with different amounts of water – that were then mic’d and played throughout his live performance.  While I don’t expect this to happen out at Symbi, I do know he’ll deliver one incredible set for us all OUTSIDE.  Don’t miss it!

edIT & Ooah Present: Crying Over Pros & Of Porcelain
https://soundcloud.com/edit
https://soundcloud.com/ooah
http://www.theglitchmob.com/

I first caught wind of Ooah back in 2005 when I spent four months on Maui with my girlfriend at the time and a whole posse of hippies.  EPIC times those were.  Ooah, Random Rab, and the late Rodman had come out during those four months as well, and were basically playing every or every other party during the whole time I was there.  It was awesome.  Ooah’s quirky, but hard hitting breaks to hip-hop sets were something to lust for over and over.  Rab’s gear hadn’t been stolen yet and he was not playing via laptops.  Then by the next time I saw Ooah, The Glitch Mob had happened.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  For one it was nothing like I was used to with Ooah.  Two, edIT, this random name in IDM who I’d heard of from his mind blowing glitch quest entitled ‘Crying Over Pros For No Reason on Planet Mu in 2004, was up there on stage with Ooah and Boretta and a whole slew of other folk churning out this psycho glitch glam hop that made me (personally) want to run away screaming.  Regardless, the Mob’s (and Bassnectar’s) sound literally took over the Cali music scene for a good four years from 2006-2010.  During that time however, Ooah self-released his own answer to edIT’s glitch quest, titled ‘Of Porcelain‘.  Both of these emotive downtempo styled glitch fests are two of the boys best works, and possibly will be for a long time to come.  To see this performed dually and live at Symbi will be a real treat that honestly will probably never happen again.  Be there.

Max Cooper
http://maxcooper.net/
https://soundcloud.com/max-cooper

I first caught wind of Mr. Cooper like many artists – through catching him deliver an over the top excellent set at Decibel Fest a few years back.  From then on he was on my radar.  Then he was booked at the Juke Shack at Symbi 2013 – again another excellent set of diverse techno, blended perfectly for the time and slot given at the fest.  That dancefloor was raging!!!  Since 2013, the world has seen Max diversify his sound incredibly from mostly techno into the world of expansive IDM sounding downtempo electronica and more.  2014 saw the release of his debut LP ‘Human‘, which is an instant classic in it’s own right.  2014 also saw Max stepping up his game even further by launching his own Live A/V (Audio/Visual) tour called ‘EMERGENCE‘, which thankfully he debuted at Decibel Fest.  This live set brings forth everything about Max that you love already, while placing sharp and crisp visuals programmed by the man himself behind it all to fully encapsulate your brain, heart, and body.  If ‘EMERGENCE‘ comes to your town – do not miss it.  I know Max will fully deliver another epic dance set at Symbi this year – I’ll see you on the dancefloor!

Bob Moses
https://soundcloud.com/the-bob-moses

Thanks to the brilliant brain of the one and only KDJ aKa Kadeejah Streets aKa Dirty Ice do I get turned onto many incredible musicians I may have not found on my own.  Bob Moses is yet another perfect example of KDJ playing something for my ears, and instantaneously am I finding myself addicted.  (I probably wouldn’t have started spinning dubstep if it wasn’t for addictions like this, but that’s another story for another time.)  This time it was through Bob Moses’ ‘Inner City Odyssey mix from about eight months ago.  I think I played it out something like 10-12 times the first week I got my hands on it (and it is still available for download via the link above, FYI).  The mix is a heartfelt and laid back sunny day house set, with beautiful vocal melodies swimming around your head throughout most of it’s hour long play time.  While I don’t know much about Bob Moses, I do know they’re relatively new to the house music scene, and so far have done nothing but turn heads wherever they play or their music is played.  I’d fair to say this may be the one biggest dance set I’m lusting after at this year’s Symbi – I can only hope they get scheduled at that perfect moment!

Thugfucker
http://www.thugfucker.org/
https://soundcloud.com/thugfucker

Thugfucker.  Say it again with me: THUG-FUCKER.  What does not come to mind when you say this brilliant moniker is a tech-house duo.  What does come to mind might be Master P or Dr. Dre’s new protege or something of the sort.  Regardless, the Fucking of Thugs is definitely oriented towards house and is one of those odd projects that has randomly released some tunes here or there for the past 10+ years, has never released a full LP, and really only plays out every so often (from what I can tell).  Honestly due to the name I’d skipped seeing them at a few previous festivals until I caught the tail end of their set over a Funktion One soundsystem at Symbi 2012.  My love of house had full on returned at that point and I dug what I heard.  It wasn’t until Symbiosis 2013 that I was fully converted into Thugfucking.  That year from 5am-7am the duo laid down what has now been deemed the ‘Fogrise Set of a Lifetime’ by our whole crew who had been camped out at the Juke Shack for close to eight hours already.  The music being DJ’d matched the time and setting so well that I was finding myself nearly brought to tears multiple times.  Melodic, emotive, dance-forward tech-house perfectly mixed for two hours.  Pure bliss.  I can only hope they get a similar timeslot this year.

Thriftworks
https://soundcloud.com/thriftworks

In a land that is overly saturated with immature bass music for days, comes the mature answer to that sound: Thriftworks.  Introduced to me through The Jess a few years back, I’d heard the name a few times, but had dismissed it due to my jaded mindset on most Cali bass music.  Then I pulled my head out of my ass and discovered Thriftworks’ not overly produced, not overly squelched, and not overly repetitive bass heavy goodness.  The man has releases for days.  They start to sound a bit similar if you go on a binge, but they really do all stand apart in their own ways.  My personal LP favorite is ‘Terry-D‘.  The title track alone gets my brain bouncing and laughing so hard at the same time, that I am only hoping he drops this one on large sound this year!

TRUTH
http://www.truthdubstep.com/
https://soundcloud.com/truthdubstep

I discovered TRUTH when I was full on binging in my new lust for the dark, minimal, and grimey sounds of halfstep dubstep a few years back.  Side Note: Remember folks – real dubstep is at 140bpm.  Just because there’s annoying squelching sounds and lots of bass DOES NOT MAKE IT DUBSTEP.  In fact it probably isn’t.  Okay, that said, TRUTH was one of the few heavy hitters not from the UK that caught my ears.  The duo has released a fair amount of tunes through most big name dubstep labels at this point including Deep Medi Musik, Black Box, and Tempa.  While it definitely takes a bit of sifting through their catalog to find the gems, once you find those gems, you’re stoked.  This was a bit of an odd booking to me for this year’s Symbi, as there is literally almost nothing like it on the lineup besides them.  Regardless I’m curious to see what these guys pull off on large sound, and I just hope that it’s some form of a live set!

Carbon Based Lifeforms
http://www.carbonbasedlifeforms.net/
https://soundcloud.com/carbonbasedlifeforms

Another fairly out there but fantastic booking is the Swedish ambient/downtempo psydub project Carbon Based Lifeforms.  Having been around now since 1998, they are veterans to the chillout scene and all things trippy.  I’d heard of these two off and on for the past ten or so years, and always in positive discussion.  A few friends are truly avid fans, so I downloaded a few albums a while back and turned out to really enjoy the music.  It’s very relaxed, calm, and has many moments of weightless ambience throughout the songs and in between.  Just like TRUTH mentioned above, these guys are kind of in their own world out at this year’s Symbiosis.  I’d imagine an early morning sunrise set would be perfect!

:: IF YOU’RE NOT BUSY WITH THE ABOVE LIST, CHECK OUT ::

Justin Martin Dirtybird Bassline Techno
Christian Martin  Dirtybird Bassline Techno
Extrawelt – German Techno
KMLN – Cali Techno Dj Duo
Mumdance – Tripped Out British Bass Music
Filastine – Epic Political Hip-Hop
Random Rab – Warm & Fuzzy Downtempo (Especially if it’s a sunrise set!)
Tara Brooks – Super Fun Dancey House Music
Treavor Moontribe – PsyTechno
World’s Finest – Americana Dub Grass from PDX

If you have some free time to kill while you’re not dancing your ass of to any of the DO NOT MISS list, then I highly recommend you check out any or all of the above artists.  They’re solid performers, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to enjoy the show!

:: IF YOU GO TO FESTIVALS TO SEE THE SAME SHIT EVERY TIME, CHECK OUT ::

Shpongle (DJ Set by Raja Ram)
Emancipator Ensemble
The Polish Ambassador
EOTO
EPROM
Perfect Stranger
Desert Dwellers
Kalya Scintilla
The Human Experience
An-Ten-Nae
Kaminanda
Liberation Movement

Uhhhh, yah.  The Festie All-Stars.  They play every fest during the summer and some of you love it.  Not really my thing, but if it floats your boat – go sailing!  I’d personally recommend checking out some of the other music this massive lineup has to offer.

:: IF YOU’RE SUPER SPIRITUAL, CHECK OUT ::

Dub Kirtan Allstars
Fanna Fi Allah
Hamsa Lila

I actually really enjoy the above bands.  What I don’t enjoy is the excessively elevated and holier than thou vibes some of their fans bring with them.  That said, if you’re into kirtan and chanting and what not, these groups are definitely for you.

Well that’s about that.  Hopefully this has been informative, helpful, and fun.  I definitely hope you discovered something new in the music world you’re now into.  I’ll be at this year’s Symbi from Thurs-Mon, and would love to see any and all of you.  I’ll be camped in the Seattle Camp, which hopefully will be pleasantly situated by the Lake once again.  Have fun this year, and remember to DRINK WATER.


~SS~

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Phish Falls & Twists Around Hood In San Francisco

WARNING: Phish garble overload in the following blog post.  Apologies if you can’t understand.  If you care enough, you’ll either know, or look it up 🙂 .

All hail the Phish Lords.  What an incredible show!! I only get a few shows a year these days, so I was beyond excited. To add to that, this was my girlfriend’s first show EVER, and on top of that the SF Giants madness downtown at that point just added to the awesomesauce that was these few days of Phish.

I started laughing right off the bat when Crowd Control dropped as last year they pulled the same stunt. What’s up with SF drawing this song out of the band? Well this year it was definitely the SF Giants crowd melding with the Phish crowd in the same few square blocks around BGCA, but last year? SF just has an epic crowd apparently!

You KNEW immediately the show was going to be ‘one of those shows’ when Mike’s got pulled outta the gate immediately after CC. Fairly solid 10min 3.0 Mike’s, and what do you ya know – the only true Mike’s Groove of the year (but maybe not as NYE is still coming) with I Am Hydrogen blending in to the Mike’s finish. This was great as my girlfriend absolutely loves this song. Slamming Paug to finish the Groove, and then the first breather of the night.

I’ve got 3-4 fav’s off the new album, and Wingsuit is definitely one of them being that it is by far the closest to Pink Floyd (especially on the album) that Phish has ever sounded. Besides the silly flub by Mike at the end (which was in no way detrimental to the song), I was in absolute bliss for those 10 minutes. I love the Floyd explosion that is the end of Wingsuit. SO GOOD. I’d recently been singing Water In The Sky in my head a lot so that was a fun rambler to swim in after flying high in my Suit.

Plasma, a TAB original, was fairly unexpected at first as they’d just played it in Eugene for the first time, but it gained a warm welcome by myself, and the SF crowd. I wouldn’t complain about hearing it more often personally, especially if they allow it to get taken for a ride at some point. Check it out for yourself here:

I’m a big fan of most of Page’s tunes so Halfway To The Moon was sweet to hear live and beautifully executed at the same time.  You can just see Page pouring his heart out up there on stage. Poor Heart you can never go wrong with of course (even if it’s oddly placed into a set) and then BOOM:

That Gumbo!!! Damn what was up with Page?! Killed it on the clavinet! Loving Gumbo to begin with and then getting a Page crushed extendo version?! Stoke. Only issue with that was that Trey kept trying to bring in the Sanity that followed and Page just wanted to keep going! TREY…STFU and let the man ride his glory! Great rendition of Gumbo into a mostly clear transition into Sanity (looking like SF may be the new town for Crowd Control and Sanity, both played back to back years in the same show). Sanity is always a fun sing along and gets me laughing my ass off. You could tell the set was coming to a close soon by the end of the Sanity, but they yanked Antelope out of the bag there at the end. Absolutely kickass cracked out rocking Lope. I remember my friend Trevor saying towards the finish line of Set 1 that we just got a full on Set 2 in place of Set 1 this evening. I then attempted to explain that to my girlfriend as the set break music came on and we went outside to puff a bowl.  Highlights of Set 1: Mike’s Groove, Wingsuit, Gumbo, and the Antelope.

Bowl smoking hit the spot, and by the time we got back inside the lights were dimming, so we smashed in the crowd to find our spot more mid-center, a bit towards Mike’s side. In no way shape or form was I expecting the Kills Devil Falls riff to start out Set 2, nor was anyone else. I think this has happened twice now, ever? Can’t say I was stoked at first as KDF is one of those ‘Meh’ Phish tracks for me personally, but goddamn did they once again prove me wrong this year by taking KDF and bringing it up to the Big Boy S2 opener slot and then going even further by diving into it Type II jam style! I often wonder what it would sound like if Phish (esp. 97-99 Phish) made electronic music. The answer to that question is the last 4-5 minutes of the SF14 KDF. Beautiful bliss that as an ambient musician I could’ve listened to for the entire set, but they had a PERFECTLY placed Mountains in the Mist waiting for us to continue the psychedelic chill vibe for another 7 minutes. Those 20 minutes were pure Phish bliss, and then BOOM (again), the Fuego piano notes drop, letting you know it’s about to get slamming again. Here’s the Mountains:

Really tight and crunchy Fuego capping at about 10 minutes. This being another of the few fav songs of mine off the new album, I was giddy that me and my lady got the two big guns off the album in one night. Fuego puts Phish sounding more like King Crimson and on the progressive rock side than anything else album wise I’ve heard from the group. Besides the funny lyrics, the song is a broken up odd rock masterpiece. Fishman loves it! Julius was a bit of a surprise mid-second set (for these days in 3.0), but welcomed as a loud and forward sing along the whole BGCA was ready for.

THEN – Twist. This Twist is it. Another fantastic reason why all of us addicts keep coming back show after show. A track I’d plop down in front of any non-believer and just ask them to attentively pay attention to the magnificent playing before their ears. Twist has always been a personal fav, and this was my first – STOKE. Having seen such great heights in 2013, and not really seeing much of anything in 2014, I wasn’t sure where it would go…but it ended up being the THE Twist of 2014. Intricate, jazzy, fun, and heartfelt, this will be a Twist I listen to until my deathbed. Hints of the electronic gorgeous side of the KDF 40 minutes before poked through at points as well. Page and Trey gently playing off of each other for blocks at a time with Mike and Fish creating the space to do so. Brilliant locked jamming from all four incredible musicians. They don’t even go back into the Twist theme they were so content on where it went. One of the best songs of the year IMO. Here’s the Twist in HD from LivePhish:

Fairly unexpected was the late Set 2 after an epic Twist Runaway Jim. The beginning is one of the softest ever I’d think, and I wish they would’ve played on that a bit, but you can tell Trey was ready to pick the pace back up, forcing Fish to catch on and bang the song out. (Side Note: Can we expect Crowd Control, Sanity, and Runaway all in the same show in SF every year now?) Fun and a jammy Jim it was (no crazy glowstick war this year), ending in more ambient bliss (theme of the night??) and then out of the glitter, another BOOM: Hood.

Being played at the one off earlier this year in New Orleans, 7 times over Summer Tour, and 4 out of 11 shows on Fall Tour, Hood had a big year. You could tell it was definitely one of the classics the Boys were loving all year. I imagine we’ll see a big one over the NYE run as well. Recognizing that we were only six songs into the set those of us in the know had a little feeling this could be a big one, and GODSDAMN, it was. There are a few movements within this Hood that really stand out, but honestly as a whole the entire 20mins moves along seamlessly as one piece, taking you on an up and down journey through multiple builds and even plains of Phishy goodness. Listen to this Hood – cherish this Hood. It is right up there with the other big Hood’s of 2014 (7/1, 7/12), possibly and probably beating them out. Another blissful ambient outro from the depths of the Hood and Set 2 closes. Here’s the Hood:

Goddamn what a night. The thanks and the first chords of Loving Cup from Page put that huge smile on my face and a solid Cup of Love ends what was IMO one of the best shows of the year, and definitely the show of Fall Tour. Sure Halloween night had some crazy new funk tracks in Set 2 from the Boys, but this show is one I will cherish for a long time to come. Download it, buy it, ask me for it, whatever you need to do, but as a Phan – you want this show. I promise!