The Bowery Presents
Boston Calling Music Festival

Boston Calling Music Festival

fun., The Shins, Marina And The Diamonds, Matt & Kim, Portugal. The Man, Cults, MS MR, St. Lucia, Bad Rabbits

Sat, May 25, 2013

Doors: 1:00 pm / Show: 1:30 pm

City Hall Plaza (Boston, MA)

Boston, MA

$75-$350

This event is all ages


$75.00 - One Day Ticket (SOLD OUT!)
$130.00 - Two Day Ticket (SOLD OUT!)
$120.00 - Early Bird Two Day Ticket (SOLD OUT!)
$185.00 - One Day VIP Ticket
$325.00 - Early Bird Two Day VIP Ticket (SOLD OUT!)
$350.00 - Two Day VIP Ticket

Boston Calling Music Festival
Boston Calling Music Festival
fun.
fun.
Close your eyes. Okay, no wait — open them because you need to keep reading — but close them in spirit. Now pretend fun. is not a band, but an amusement park. Just replace the guitar with a log flume and the percussion with a carousel. Now imagine the crowds lining up for a ride on fun.’s sophomore record, Some Nights. The line snakes around the whole park. Maybe there are some bearded ladies on it. Maybe lots of bearded ladies. Anyway. As you get closer, you see the entrance to Some Nights is actually Nate Ruess’ head. His mouth is open wider than should be physically possible and his uvula dangles in the dark. The musical tracks harden into wooden rollercoaster tracks. You get on the car, and with a jerk, it starts to move. There’s that familiar feeling that tells you something pretty transformative is about to happen. Lights flash as you go plummeting into the darkness. The rollercoaster version of Some Nights follows the same path as the album version: colorful on the outside, deeper than you had imagined in the center, and so good it’ll make your head spin.
Want to go again?
“I had met Jack briefly once and thought he was kind of a douche,” says Nate Ruess of his first encounter with Jack Antonoff. They were 18 years old and going, separately, to punk rock shows in southern New Jersey. Nate had worked at one of the clubs since he was 16 (“It’s how I developed a sense of what really works, and what is boring.”), and Jack was in love with the whole scene--well, almost the whole scene.
“In the late 90s there was just a brilliant punk world happening in legion halls and fire houses. I was immediately taken with Nate’s voice but everything else – no.” Years later, Nate, who was the lead singer of The Format at the time and Jack, Steel Train’s front man, wound up on tour together. Impressions hadn’t changed much. “It was just like an, ‘Oh God, this guy,’ vibe from both of us right off the bat. But 24 hours into that tour, Nate and I became inseparable.”
When The Format broke up, Nate’s first call was to Jack.
Though not a “meet-cute” tale, it’s indicative of who fun. is as a band. You hear them and think, “Are they really going to pull off this sound, this arrangement, and create a moving, catchy, memorable rock song?” It’s become their signature. So long as that signature has one last element: Nate’s second call was to Andrew Dost, the force behind all the literal bells and whistles of fun. “Andrew,” says Jack, “is one of those people who see the world like a giant art project. I can’t begin to tell you how vital he is in our band.”
“My first impressions of them were both overwhelmingly positive,” says Andrew Dost, “I’ve heard they were….unsure of each other when they first met?”
fun. has not stopped living up to its name since their 2009 debut, Aim & Ignite. A year after the debut they were opening for Paramore on their headlining tour and performing at Coachella along with The Strokes and Jay-Z. Now they’ve teamed up with Janelle Monáe, a melodic collaboration on display in one of three videos for “We Are Young.” In addition, the TV series “Glee” plucked “We Are Young” and the title track off Some Nights to cover on the show, an experience that meant the world to a band that prides itself on appealing to any demographic that might feel disenfranchised or just plain odd. “None have us have ever felt like anything but outcasts our entire lives,” says Jack, “and I know that’s something that has resonated with fun. fans. They are the same people as us — kids who never fully latched onto a specific music scene because it couldn't define them.”
With a trail of accolades behind them, fun. knew they had to step up their game in an unexpected way when it came to producing their second record. “I got really got into hip-hop,” says Nate, “I mean really into it. Songs started coming to me in the middle of the night, and I would hear them with breakbeats and samples, and it all made sense… I told everyone I wanted the next record to sound like a hip-hop album, and I don’t think they were unsupportive, but they were definitely confused.” Then, a few hours before a show in Phoenix, the band snuck into a music room at Arizona State University. Nate doesn’t play any instruments, but by now Jack and Andrew have learned to “crack the code.” This time the code was for the track that would become “Some Nights.” Andrew pounded out the chords out on a piano, while Nate sang, and Jack stomped his feet and clapped as hard as he could to establish the pulse of the song. “That moment really brought us together as the band that was going to be making this album….I just had to explain how the MPC (Music Production Center) would be our new best friend.”
Jack is a whip-smart horn-rimmed glasses-wearing guitarist whose influences are Tom Waits, Jack White, and Neil Young.
Andrew counts the flugelhorn and glockenspiel among his conquered instruments. (Influences: Weezer, ELO, and Claude Debussy.)
And here they were, jumping out of their skin, listening to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Drake in a concrete building in the middle of the desert.
“What can I say? Eventually they fell victim to Drizzy,” laughs Nate.
When pressed by their label and management for a list of potential producers, Nate consulted the albums he loved most. The name that appeared time and time again was "Jeff Bhasker.”
The legendary Grammy-winning producer for Alicia Keys and Kanye West had his hands full at the time, working with Beyoncé, and the band worried that they might not have a chance to meet him. Finally, one night late at The Bowery Hotel, Nate got his chance. Their relationship was one that fit nicely into the grand tradition of fun. “Jeff wasn’t very, shall we say, warm. He had been working on Beyoncé all day, and he really gave the vibe that he didn’t want to be meeting with me...but thank God for alcohol. We ended up hitting it off, and since I was drunk and lacking self-awareness, I decided to sing him something I had been working on. I remember singing the chorus for "We Are Young" kind of loud and out of key. That’s when I learned that Jeff does this thing when he’s excited where his eyes perk up and somehow his ears move all the way to the top of his head. He told me we had to work together.”
fun. was on their way to becoming the band that would — that could — produce Some Nights.
“Jeff left a huge imprint in our brains,” says Andrew, “and for me at least, made me realize all over again that songs are special, and that they deserve to sound unique. His palette of sounds is huge.” Or, as Jack says: “Jeff pushed the shit out of us, and he’s nothing like us. He helped us do something way bigger than what we could have done on our own."
Jeff heard the songs stripped down with just vocals, acoustic guitar and piano before the band went into the studio with him.
“Jeff has an energy, a talent, confidence, and a way of making you feel confident, like no one I've ever met, or probably will ever meet,” says Nate. “Suddenly here was a gigantic beat on top of those acoustics and pianos. Jack’s guitar solo in ‘Carry On’ was one of those magical moments. I’ve never seen anyone so in control of their tone, and for him to take the lyrics, internalize them, and redistribute it into the form of a guitar solo, is just so unbelievable, and it’s a huge testament to his passion for music.”
Lyrically, Some Nights has a uniquely impactful note — and it’s not always an upbeat one. See also: the line “I got nothing left inside my chest but it’s all alright” in “All Alright.” “I was just coming off of a darker and more introspective year,” Nate remembers, “You know, I remember being a freshman in high school and feeling like an outsider who always wanted this one girl to notice me, and I would listen to ‘El Scorcho’ by Weezer and couldn’t help but smile because there was at least one other person in the world who felt how I felt. That’s what I hope to accomplish as a lyricist. But I was having anxiety attacks about whether or not I could still write a song, let alone still wanting to make music. The only way to cope with it was to write about it.”
Some Nights earned the band six total nominations for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, including nominations in all “Big Four” categories, marking fun. the first rock ever to achieve such a feat.
Maybe it’s Nate. Or Andrew. Or Jack. Or Jeff. Or the acoustics at Arizona State. Either way, it’s a good problem to have when you’re pointing fingers at each other, laying the blame for the magic of your new record on your band mates. Even with the “new and improved” sound, fans will never forget what it is this band wants: “Some Nights has a common theme of guilt and depression and laying everything on the table, sure, but there’s always some sort light at the end of the tunnel,” says Nate. “That’s what this album is striving for, to say something along the lines of ‘Okay, I found that light, but it’s just led me to another situation where I need to find the light again.’”
And down the tracks we go.
The Shins
The Shins
The Shins are an American indie rock band founded and fronted by vocalist and multiinstrumentalist, James Mercer. The Shins were formed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but are now based in Portland, Oregon. The Shins began in 1996 as a side project for singer/songwriter James Mercer, whose primary band was Flake Music in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mercer formed Flake Music in 1992 with Neal Langford on guitar, Phil Higgs and then Marty Crandall on bass, and Jesse Sandoval on drums. During the next 5 years Flake Music released several singles, a full-length album, and began touring largely due to the help of other bands like Modest Mouse.
In 1996, Mercer began writing what would eventually become The Shins' first record. Flake Music came to an end around this time leaving Mercer with an opportunity to record, "Nature Bears A Vacuum" a 7" EP released by Omnibus Records. For their earliest shows, The Shins performed as a duo with Mercer recruiting Sandoval to play drums. "Nature Bears A Vacuum" was released with no expectations of expanding the band's following beyond Albuquerque. However, the single generated enough attention that Mercer felt it necessary to assemble a full band. Crandall was brought into the fold on keyboards, and Dave Hernandez (frontman of local punk legends Scared of Chaka, which had played dozens of shows with Flake Music) was given bass duties.
At a San Francisco performance with Modest Mouse in 2000, Sub Pop's Jonathan Poneman asked The Shins to contribute a single to the label's Single of the Month Club, which eventually became an offer to release The Shins' 2001 single, "New Slang", and their debut album, "Oh, Inverted World". The group spent the rest of the year touring. The release of singles such as "Know Your Onion!" and "The Past and Pending" kept The Shins' success going into 2002, cementing "Oh, Inverted World" as one of the definitive indie-rock albums of the early '00s and The Shins as one of the genre's leading younger bands. It received critical acclaim for its lyrically deft and jangly pop sound. The song "One By One All Day" was featured in the 2003 film A Guy Thing, starring Jason Lee. Two other songs from this album, ("Caring Is Creepy" and "New Slang") were featured prominently on the soundtrack for the 2004 film Garden State, starring and directed by Zach Braff, exposing the music of The Shins to a much wider audience.[2] Their music was also featured in the television series The OC, the film The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and they performed on an episode of Gilmore Girls. Oh, Inverted World appeared at #71 on Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Albums of 2000–2004.
The band relocated from Albuquerque to Portland, OR in 2001. Mercer, Sandoval and Crandall made the move. Neal Langford decided to leave the band, staying in Albuquerque so he could continue with another of his passions, professional hot air ballooning. Dave Hernandez (at this point living in nearby Seattle) rejoined The Shins in 2003 playing guitar and bass. The band began tracking new material in Mercer's basement that summer. In an effort to balance the homerecording method used on Oh, Inverted World with a studio finish, producer Phil Ek (Built To Spill, Modest Mouse) was brought in to mix and produce the album. Chutes Too Narrow was released by Sub Pop in the fall of 2003 to much fanfare in indie music circles, featuring even more multi-layered lyrics, as well as a musical approach that explored new genres, song structures, and levels of production fidelity. In 2006, the band helped to curate an edition of the British All Tomorrow's Parties festival. Nonstop touring of everywhere from Australia to Norway, as well as the US countless times over contributed to pushing sales past 500,000 worldwide, exceeding everyone's expectations, including the band's. Chutes Too Narrow appeared at #47 on Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Albums of 2000–2004.An enhanced single release in 2004 included a live version of "New Slang" recorded with Iron and Wine, a studio mix of "Fighting in a Sack," a multimedia tack of "So Says I," and a cover of the Marc Bolan song "Baby Boomerang". The Shins have also recorded a cover of "We Will Become Silhouettes" by The Postal Service, which was released on that group's 2003 single "Such Great Heights". On May 9, 2005, the video for "Pink Bullets" (directed by Adam Bizanski), was one of the first videos to demonstrate iTunes music store's new capability to sell videos. In a Pitchfork Media interview, Mercer announced that Eric Johnson of fellow Sub Pop band Fruit Bats had joined the Shins.
The band's third album, Wincing the Night Away, was recorded in Portland during 2006 by a largely solo Mercer, but with the production assistance of Joe Chiccarelli.[6] It was released on January 23, 2007 and debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200 album chart with 118,000 copies sold in its first week, the highest sales week and chart position an album released solely on Sub Pop has ever achieved. The album was leaked to the Internet on October 20, 2006 and was available for pre-order on iTunes, with an extra track.[citation needed] It was nominated for a 2008 Grammy award in the category of Best Alternative Music Album. In 2007 the band did a Take-Away show acoustic video session shot by Vincent Moon, and recorded a version of "Little Boxes" for the Showtime series Weeds.[citation needed] On November 27, 2007, the group was featured on a Darfur charity album released by Waxploitation.
On January 24, 2008, "The Past and Pending" was played at the funeral of Heath Ledger.After a year as this lineup, during which half the songs on debut album "Oh, Inverted World" (including "New Slang") were penned, Hernandez moved to New York City. Neal Langford was selected as his replacement, and it was this lineup that saw the group embark on a tour with Modest Mouse.
On June 20, 2008, the band announced that their three record Sub Pop contract had been fulfilled and that the next Shins' record would be released on James Mercer's own label, Aural Apothecary.
On July 26th, 2011, the band announced via Facebook that they would soon release news about upcoming shows and new music.
On August 1, 2011 Pitchfork reported that The Shins would be releasing an album in 2012 on Mercer's Aural Apothecary Label, via Columbia Records. The Shins also announced additional tour dates for their North American tour. The new band backing Mercer on this tour include singer/songwriter Richard Swift, Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer, Yuuki Matthews of Crystal Skulls and Jessica Dobson. On December 14th, they announced on their website that their upcoming album would be titled Port of Morrow and would be released March 2012. They revealed the cover art for the album as well, designed by Jacob Escobedo. They also released their first track form the new album "Simple Song" on January 9th
Marina And The Diamonds
Marina And The Diamonds
Thundering, stellar electronic... magnetic, glacial vocals...whip-smart, womanly, lyrical wit... jokes as good as 'The Valley of The Lolls'...

Marina and The Diamonds second album, 'Electra Heart', is not so much a creative leap forward, more an Olympian pole-vault over the bar of talented-newcomer into the global amphitheatre of a cultivated Classic. Two years on from her top 5 debut 'The Family Jewels' (300,000 copies sold), the self-styled avant-garde "D.I.Y artist" has detonated her own experimental past and landed feet first in the future with 'Electra Heart', a stunningly ambitious, seamless, cohesive and confident sonic pulsar spinning between electro-pop euphoria and come-down melancholia. The album is produced by a cache of old school and A-List producers: Dr Luke (Katy Perry) and Liam Howe (Sneaker Pimps) but mostly (9 out of 12 songs) Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen, Kylie) and Rick Nowels (Madonna, Stevie Nicks, Lykke Li). A hook-packed stunner with the sonic ambition of a one-woman Depeche Mode, her onetime theatrical vocals now effortlessly soar between spectral, commanding and towering power-pop, finding her vocal identity in an album about a loss of it.

"I wanted to challenge myself, I have consciously done everything I set out not to, originally" says Marina. "Sing about Love. Work in the world of American Pop. Co-write. It was a really enjoyable period in my life. The music has energy and aggression and my vocals are much more controlled and detached... It's lyrically quite bitter, but comically so. I love black humour".

'Electra Heart' is a thematic riot, a British Eccentric, 21st Century concept caper where the album title represents a series of female archetypes, not so much an alter-ego as a beautifully-constructed prism, through which Marina projects a series of meticulously-realised female characters as a foil for telling her story, the one about mismatched lovers.
"'Electra Heart' is an Ode to dysfunctional love," she explains. "I based the project around character types commonly found in love stories, film and theatre. I guess it was a way of dealing with the embarrassment that, for the first time in my life, I got 'played'. Rejection is a universally embarrassing topic and Electra Heart is my response to that, creating character types to enable me to express personal experiences I would never confess in real life. Weakness and defeat in love are things I don't particularly want talk about, so I guess I've written a whole album about it. Whatever an artist does not want to admit, that is what the artist writes about. It's a very frank album but hopefully funny too"

The songs, mostly recorded in L.A in 2011, were written on-the-road through America in 2010, teased into life on Marina's £100 keyboard or sung into her lap-top in the back of her tour-bus bedroom, "watching the corn fields flying by and making sense of the message that American culture employs; that you can be anyone and do anything, go anywhere and lose yourself- start afresh and forget whatever the truth is". The song titles tell the story -- from throbbing first single 'Primadonna' to the robo-pop of 'Bubblegum Bitch' to the haughty spoken-word soliloquies of 'Homewrecker' -- a fantasy roll-call of "fairly vengeful characters". These are inspired by her love for American Pop culture's artifice, "I am attracted to emptiness, to the fake in us. Aside from love, perception and deception are central themes in "Electra Heart", that's why I changed my hair- because the archetypal star is always blonde". She says " I used to think of the female superstars, Marilyn, Madonna, Britney Spears, and wonder if they would have had the same career paths if they had been brunettes" and her uncharacteristic behaviour in a brief but life-altering relationship, where she changed herself to comply with a boy's ideals to win his heart. "The type of girl who maintains a level of artifice and illusion in order to hold his intrigue. I am nothing like that. I was sad to pretend I was someone else all the time".

Hence the many faces of 'Electra Heart' and her revolving door persona. It's also a visual project, with vast, camp and cerebral touchstones as befits her analytical brain: "Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Dolly Parton, Chuck Pahlaniuk, Madonna, Jayne Mansfield's Pink Palace, Valley of the Dolls, Pierre Et Gilles, Britney Spears, Love... Boys... Fear." She's also created a website, 'The: Archetypes', featuring images of 'Electra Heart' split into four character-type categories: "The Homewrecker", "Su-Barbie-A", "Teen Idles" and "Stars & Queens". All fabulous hair, kitschy 50's costumes and a pun-tastic way with a caption, from "Miss Shellfish Beach 1985" and "Mother's Ruined" to "VALLEY OF THE LOLS."

Welsh by birth, kaleidoscopic by nature, Marina Diamandis is a serial college drop-out who once dressed up as a boy to audition for a reggae boy-band, hoping to amuse the record label into signing her. After further failed auditions (girl bands, musicals), in a fit of ambitious pique, she taught herself piano and created Marina and The Diamonds in 2005 (it's just her, the Diamonds are the audience). She was a MySpace generation D.I.Y powerhouse who hand-made and sold her own CDs to Rough Trade until being signed to Warner Music Group's '679 Recordings' in 2008. Acclaimed overnight as an intriguing, confrontational and theatrical amalgam of Kate Bush and PJ Harvey, she was nominated in 2010 for both the Brits Critic's Choice Award and the BBC Sound of 2010. She looks back on her early years, now, with some ambivalence. "I experimented with my voice a lot, I was young, amateurish and ambitious" she decides. "I feel different now. My voice is far more controlled and my writing style has matured. For me, it's a real, coherent step-up. I would love to one day be a great artist."

2012, then, sees her reach her potential as an outstanding British song-writing talent and dazzling pop performer, an uncompromising spirit and pop-art intellectual who singlehandedly fashions the ideas for her art-work, videos, website content and striking live performances. In 2012 she embarks on both a UK headline tour and as support to the mighty Coldplay, jet-packed onto the mainstream stage on their colossal European Stadium Tour, at the band's personal request. The concept of 'Electra Heart', meanwhile, below its multi-fold messages, is deceptively simple. "It just about love" she concludes. "Every one of us relates to love songs. To being hurt. But I wanted to chronicle it in a raw and truthful way, almost make a (visual) gimmick out of the thing I feared most. Everything else is just based around my love for photography, sharp humour and a fascination with transient identities. If you are who you are, then why do you change around certain people? Why do we spend our entire lives trying to become ourselves, when we are born as no one else? I always want to try and cement who I am. But I never can. That's why I write songs"
She also, incidentally, enjoys a curious neurological condition called synaesthesia which means associating musical notes, numbers and days of the week with colour. So what colour is Tuesday?

"Tuesday is green," she assures, as befits a proper pop star.

TRACK BY TRACK

'Bubblegum Bitch': Frenetic synth-pop bedlam from 1981 meets 1997. "It's late 90s Britney charm, turned inside out."

'Primadonna': Smell the waft of poppers across the festival field as a throbbing, fuchsia cloud thunders over your head. "Channelling the archetype of The Star, asking for adoration."

'Lies': A haunting, melancholic treatise on emotional disappointment. "You only ever touch me in the dark, only if we're drinking, can you see my spark" she sings, exquisitely. "Trying to tell yourself a lover is right for you when you know he is nothing but."

'Homewrecker': Spoken-word ice-queen theatrics befitting the Pet Shop Boys, featuring the line: "Girls and their cars and their gourmet vomit." "It's about the power of an image: Looking sweet whilst secretly being a total bitch and getting away with it!"

'Starring Role': Ethereal, fragile rumination on living outside reality. "And you don't want to live in reality. That's why you're an artist. You're on the run."

'The State Of Dreaming': 'Hounds Of Love'-era Kate Bush and a contemplation of the famous Marilyn Monroe quote: "I just want to be wonderful." "Fantasy protects us"

'Power And Control': Cinematic, Teutonic, Depeche Mode/Killers-sized electro colossus, written and recorded at dawn on ferry to Finland. "About the tactics of power-games in love"

'Living Dead': Pummeling synth-pop paean to regret. "The feeling that you have not lived your life to the full."

'Teen Idle': "Story of my suicidal cheerleader youth! This song was like my last hurrah of adolescence"

'Valley Of The Dolls': Brooding, elegant, gothic search through loss of identity. "About emptiness, a void that you can't fill with relationships."

'Hypocrates': Breezy, beautiful, guitar-pop melodies, perhaps Gwen Stefani fronting Crowded House. "Saying 'let me be who I am'."

'Fear And Loathing': Epic, Trent Reznor-esque, doom-pop reverie on multiple inner personalities. "About seeing the good in people, making a fresh start and cutting yourself free of old ideals"
Matt & Kim
Matt & Kim
For many bands, making music is all about the routine of recording an annual album, or being able to tour in progressively bigger venues. Not Matt and Kim. “Our goal is to make music we want to hear,” says Matt Johnson, who co-founded the band with Kim Schifino. “When it comes time to make a new album, I’m just so excited, since I know we have all these ideas and I just want to get them out there.” As for the band’s extra-emphatic live shows, which these days happen in large venues, he explains, “We’ve always just really enjoyed playing music, and things have kept growing.”

Matt and Kim’s enthusiasm comes across loud and clear on the band’s new album, Lightning, its most diverse and developed to date. From the relentless drive of “Now” to the dance-fueled beat of “Let’s Go” to the more contemplative “Ten Dollars I Found,” Lightning is the strongest distillation yet of Matt and Kim’s unique sound: a spunky hybrid of indelible songs, an emphatic beat and almost tangible energy, mixed with the duo’s influence of listening nonstop to Top 40 Hip-Hop and pop-punk.

To make the album, Matt and Kim spent six months working in their home studio in Brooklyn, producing the record themselves. Lightning is a touch more minimal than their earlier work – with layers taken away, instead of added, enabling its intense performances and memorable tunes to really come to the forefront. “What’s made the songs on this album really strong is we’ve been able to pull a lot off – to not have so much going on – and still have a strong song,” Kim explains.

“It’s easier to make a song with a lot going on,” Matt adds. “It feels very safe. It’s like putting on a lot of clothes: you feel all covered up so no one can judge just one aspect of it, but when you try to break it down to be as simple as can be, you’re really baring it all. When you can see clearly what’s going on, those are the times that the songs are easiest to connect to.”

Connecting with their audience is certainly a key focus for Matt and Kim. The indie dance duo’s live shows – which are legendary for constant, in-your-face exuberance – feel more like vibrant, sweaty loft parties than traditional concerts, for both audiences and the band. “I think we’ve managed to continue to make them feel intimate,” says Matt. “When we first started playing venues instead of playing on the floor at parties, we tried hard to keep the vibe of ‘we’re all doing this together and having a wild time’ going. The show is not just the two of us: it’s the 3002 of us, or however big the venue is.” Or, as in the words of Rolling Stone: “Matt and Kim’s reputation as a live act precedes them – and justifiably so. Simply put, they are a two-person dynamo, frantic, tightly wound, and full of good cheer. Their performances are as physical as they are musical. . . . For sheer adrenaline-per-second, no other band comes close.”

The band started in 2004, essentially by accident when Matt and Kim were art students at the prestigious Pratt Institute, where they studied film and illustration, respectively. When Kim wanted to learn to play drums and Matt (who’d been in bands before) was getting his head around a new keyboard, the band was born. Since then, they have earned a Gold Record for the upbeat, stick-in-your-head track “Daylight,” played festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo, along with international festivals like V (U.K), Pukkelpop (Belgium), Fuji (Japan), Big Day Out (Australia), Primavera (Spain), Oya (Norway), SWU (Brazil), as well as hundreds of shows. They have won 3 MTV awards: a Breakthrough Video Music Award and mtvU Best Video Woodie Award for “Lessons Learned”, as well as a 2011 award for Best Live Band. Lightning is the band’s fourth album, following Sidewalks, Grand, and their self-titled debut.

Matt and Kim have always been inspired by Brooklyn’s general urban din as well as the area’s artists, yet Matt points out, “I don’t think a place can define a person. We simply write songs about us and our life so that’s why where we live comes up.”

Indeed, there’s something universal about a song with a beat that grabs you, with a great melody, played by a band that simply loves to play music. And that, in Williamsburg and way beyond, is the key to the universal appeal of Matt and Kim.
Portugal. The Man
Portugal. The Man
It was last spring 2012, and John Gourley—frontman of Portugal. The Man—found himself in New York City about to ring the bell at Danger Mouse’s apartment--a long way from his current home in Portland, and farther still from his real home in Alaska. Six full-length albums in six years, nonstop touring, a stint with The Black Keys and festival stops at Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza—up until this moment, Portugal. The Man embodied all dimensions of DIY rock range.

When it came time to begin work on the seventh album, Gourley thought long and hard about the next move and kept coming back to one concept: The most satisfying work is collaborative work. From building houses with his father in Alaska to building a devoted fanbase, he had sought partnerships. So he took a bold step — bold for a proven band, bolder still for its uncertainty of sound — a step up to the apartment of a possible collaborator, Danger Mouse.

“I walked into his place,” Gourley remembers now. “And it wasn’t going to happen. He was like, ‘Hey, man, just so you know, I don’t really want to record a rock band.’ And I was a little relieved. We’d done this by ourselves before, and we knew we could do it by ourselves again.”

But then they got to listening, and to talking about how much Danger Mouse had loved In the Mountain in the Cloud — the 2011 followup to Portugal. The Man’s break out record The Satanic Satanist. “From that very first meeting,” says Danger Mouse, “we were very ambitious about what we could do…otherwise there was no point. So we decided: Let’s try and make something really special.”

So Danger Mouse — aka Brian Burton, the five-time Grammy award winning producer behind everything from Gnarls Barkley and Beck to The Black Keys and now U2 —and the band agreed that they were game for the challenge and began production on what would become Evil Friends, the undaunted re-awakening for Portugal. The Man. As much as their collaborative imaginations melded, to construct songs that lived up to the ambitious visions they had would take some time. After all, here was a band with an evolving lineup — Kyle O’Quin on keyboards, Noah Gersh on guitar/percussion/keyboards, and Kane Ritchotte on drums joined Zach Carothers on bass and vocals and Gourley on lead vocals and guitar — building new songs with a new producer trying to do something neither of them had done before.

They went, together, to Los Angeles and worked through several sessions — at Mondo Studios, Eltro Vox Studios, and Kingsize Soundlabs. The band worked months longer than they ever had on one thing. And somehow — maybe it was the collaboration in the air, or maybe sheer will — they finally stopped searching and started realizing: “What really brought our record together was getting past that period of looking for something, and figuring out how to do something really new, really hard, and really satisfying,” said Gourley.

Each track on Evil Friends is as different from the next as Portugal. The Man’s previous records were from each other, which is to say a piece of a growing mindscape, and wholly a part of the group’s tumbling fever dream. Where the 2009 hit “People Say” was a cheery guitar rally, the new title track is a bells-and-balls ballad emerging from darkness into a pipe-whistling punky thump, albeit with Gourley’s trademark falsetto and thundering guitar. And yet here is Evil Friends swirling, like a tornado that sends a napping child toward Oz, into something of a tale of Portugal. The Man’s arousal from when it decided to make something special to when it actually did: The weighted down questions of “Plastic Soldiers” (Could it be we got lost in the summer? / Well I know you know that it’s over) give way to the confident melodies of “Modern Jesus” (The only rule we need is never giving up / The only faith we have is faith in us) and finally, brazenly, to the anthem “Smile” (We watched the sun come up / But took it down to hide it / Seems like the spring has come and gone / It felt like forever).

It took all year, and Portugal. The Man — a group guaranteed for seven years to pump out a record, to tour and tour and tour, to tuck its fans to bed at night with a community of psychedelic rock — had learned to slow down and transform all-day, all-night recording with Danger Mouse into adrenaline, into words that are at once dark and light, into sounds that are overlapping with danger and charm. The whole “evil friends” thing was just a happy writing accident, by the way, a lyrical coincidence belying a collaborative friendship Burton says taught him, too: “I felt like I was watching them do something special and I wanted to let them do it, so sometimes I was more hands-on, but sometimes more hands-off than I had been with anyone,” says Danger Mouse. “They had done enough albums that I thought it would be fun to shake it up a little bit.”

“In the beginning, I asked Brian why he had wanted to talk about making a record,” recalls Gourley. “And he admitted that he was surprised when he saw us live. ‘I didn’t know you guys could sound like that.’ There had been this perception that we’ve been something else — and I’ve noticed it, at festivals, everywhere — that we were something we were not. But then we got in a room with Danger Mouse, to the place where we could just throw that out, wake up and say, Here we are. We’re this band! Let’s just make it, together.”
Cults
Cults
Static is a breakup album. Just not in the way we think of a breakup album. That cold knot in your stomach when you lose someone? That is not longing for a person. That is dread, uncertainty of what comes next. Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion of Cults are both 24 years old. Today most people of that age, if not all of us, carry this cold knot inside.

“There’s a feeling our generation has. The feeling there’s always something better around the corner, that everyone is born to be a star,” Brian says. “The feeling that life is waiting for you, and yet it’s not happening. All of that is static.”

Static. The white noise that comes when a signal is lost, or when there are too many signals. What causes an electric shock when two people touch. But also, immobility, distortion.

Television is a heavy influence on Cults. Before the first Cults show, Brian ran to the Salvation Army to pick up old TV set to decorate the stage. Brian Oblivion, his stage name, is lifted from a professor in the movie Videodrome, a guy who only appears as a face on a television. Brian has five televisions in his house. Brian says, “I was thinking about the idea of static being all possible frequencies at once—the everything. I could just stare at it forever.” The final track on this new Cults record, “No Hope,” opens and ends with the sound of broadcasting static. “Burn down the bridges…forget tomorrow,” Madeline sings sweetly on the song.

Cults has always been a band to look to both past and present. When the young duo arrived on the New York scene in 2010 with the perfectly formed debut single “Go Outside,” it was described as Phil Spector with hip-hop sensibilities, glee soaked in reverb. Sometimes, when Madeline’s friends heard the song, they asked her how they got little boys to sing on it. “That’s just me!” she told them. In fact, if you ask Brian to name his favorite album, he’ll name Home Schooled: The ABCs of Kid Soul, a compilation by the Numero Group, a collection of lost, old R&B recorded by children. Brian adores the the crate-digging Chicago reissue label and its dusty, forgotten music. “Whenever we make songs, I picture imaginary bands,” he says.

What make-believe bands can be heard on Static? “I Can Hardly Make You Mine” is Petula Clark pounding a “Downtown” piano beat while fronting a Jesus and Mary Chain maelstrom. The bouncing, shimmering “Always Forever” and “We’ve Got It” rocket girl-group doo-wop into the shoegazer dream-pop stratosphere. “High Road” gallops through a spaghetti western soundscape in a sandstorm of strings and organ, like Morricone teaching us how to walk like an Egyptian. Though such fantasy might be too shallow for the record’s emotional centerpiece, “Were Before,” a duet that is quintessential Cults. “We both needed our own world, just the way were before,” Brian and Madeline sing at the same time, though not necessarily together.

Static is funkier and denser than its predecessor, something immediately apparent from the cool strut of “High Road.” “I started out as a bass player,” Brian says. “That’s how I write songs, on bass.” Oblivion then fleshes the songs out with drums, guitar, piano, farfisa, strings, layers and layers. He plays just about all of the sounds on Static himself, save for slide guitar. “Everything today is party, party, dance, dance nonstop,” Brian says. “There’s room for more moody and introspective dance music. We wanted to make a groovy record.”

There’s a cliché that claims you have your whole life to make your debut album and one year to make your second. The immediacy of internet fame has killed that. Brian and Madeline were raised in San Diego and both attended film school in New York City. At 21, the two moved in together in Manhattan. Cults began merely as apartment hobby, with Brian fiddling with fragments of tunes and Madeline trilling on top. They put songs online. In a matter of days, the two were receiving fan e-mails and gig offers. From there, the blogs quickly sniffed them out. Soon, a contract with Columbia. A tour that lasted nearly three years. A self-titled 2011 debut recorded in schedule gaps. Lollapalooza, All Tomorrows Parties, Bonnaroo, Pitchfork. Malmö, Singapore, Buffalo, Melbourne. By the end of the cycle, Cults were exhausted and separated.

Brian and Madeline began recording Static with friend Shane Stoneback, who co-produced their debut. The process was the same as ever. “I’d be in one room working on lyrics. Brian would be working on finishing a song. We’d come to the point where we couldn’t get any further and switch places.” Madeline enjoyed having a set schedule. She stopped having panic attacks. The former couple found they worked better than when they were together. “We were not as afraid to speak the truth.”

Despite any newfound ease with internal criticism, Cults were bursting with ideas—and recordings. The group found itself with six different versions of songs. “It was my fault,” Brian admits. “If you’re working with a friend, it’s easier to forget you’re spending money.” So the two decided to finish the record with someone they have never worked with before.

Cults took the tracks to Atlanta and producer Ben Allen. They worked in a studio filled with vintage lunch boxes and a control room made of an abandoned boxcar. The fun part in Georgia was hacking away. That string part they worked on for two days? Fuck it, throw it out. Slashing at the songs felt invigorating.

Because really, that is the question lying beneath Static: What can you live without?
MS MR
MS MR
The mysterious New York City-based musical duo MS MR (Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow) emerged to make their imprint on 2012 with "Hurricane," an introspective alt-pop masterpiece heralding the arrival of a new band, a new sound and a new approach to pop. An unofficial video for the track popped up on YouTube in May 2012 and has since garnered more than 1.5 million views. Awarded ‘Best New Track’ on Pitchfork, the duo's single quickly rose to number one on Hype Machine.

“We’re interested in exploring the nature of mixed media and collage,” says Lizzy, “and how music transcends all these various platforms.” Chief among them is MS MR’s lively—if thoroughly mystifying—Tumblr page, which they used unprecedentedly to debut their EP, the critically lauded Candy Bar Creep Show. “Hurricane" joined "Bones," "Dark Doo Wop," and "Ash Tree Lane" on the self-released EP, which they released in the fall of 2012.

Mainstream and underground press on both sides of the Atlantic soon took notice and before long MS MR’s songs were popping up everywhere, including “Bones” on the trailer for Game of Thrones Season 3 and "Hurricane" on catwalks everywhere during Fashion Week. "Prepare to be blown away," predicted the Guardian. KCRW praised the pair's "brilliantly produced cinematic pop" while the NME marveled, "There's a spark of innovation to New York newcomers MS MR that doesn't come so soon with new bands." Soon after the release of their EP, the duo signed a deal with Columbia Records for the worldwide release of their debut album.

In the beginning of 2013 MS MR released “Fantasy,” the first track off of their upcoming album Secondhand Rapture. For the full-length Lizzy and Max initially wrote and recorded all the tracks in Max’s home studio in Brooklyn. Composed over the course of a year and produced by Max, the duo then brought in Tom Elmhirst (Adele, Amy Winehouse), to mix the full-length and add some additional production at the legendary Electric Lady Studios. “It was a big leap from the glorified closet where we recorded our demos to our first real studio," says Max, "but it was an amazing opportunity for us to augment the tracks with some live instrumentation and to work with Tom, one of our musical heroes.”

Secondhand Rapture is an intriguing aural Jenga that combines humbled ballads (“Dark Doo Wop”), experimental epics (“Head is not My Home”), and pure pop belters ("Think of You") alike. It expands on what Candy Bar Creep Show sketched out, seamlessly referencing everything from ’80s new wave to ’90s pop, doo-wop to country. “We both listen to a lot of different music from all different genres and time periods,” says Lizzy. “We wanted to create an environment that was cinematic and grandiose but also self-aware and playful. It wasn't until we finished writing that we found the sonic threads that tied certain tracks together. These ultimately became the album.”

"We both realized we found an emotional narrative more through the music and melodies than the lyrics," says Max, "so the album title was inspired more by the environment we wrote in than lyrical themes." Secondhand Rapture touches on the pair's relationship to media and the weather: "'Secondhand' refers to the mediated way in which we relate to each other and the world around us," says Lizzy, "We're fascinated by how technology gives us access to a vast new universe that feels incredibly intimate despite being once removed." For both, "rapture" felt like an accurate description of this feeling, euphoric with a dark underbelly, and was a nod to the climactic unrest of 2012, which they found inspiring.

It’s a stroke of serendipity that Lizzy and Max are even making music together. They may giggle uncontrollably and complete each other’s thoughts, but these Vassar alums hardly knew each other during college. Lizzy was a media-studies major, releasing records under her burgeoning imprint Neon Gold. (She’s gone on to release records by artists such as Passion Pit and Ellie Goulding.) Max was an urban-studies major with a concentration in modern dance, and started composing music for his choreographies. It wasn't until after graduation that they connected - Max was studying at the Martha Graham School for Dance and was looking for a singer to collaborate with while Lizzy needed an unbiased sounding board for the songs she was starting to write in private. “There was an element of throwing caution to the wind. Send someone an email, hope for the best," explains Max.

They connected in person three months later in December 2010. To find their footing as collaborators, they recorded a sweeping cover of Patrick Wolf’s “Time of My Life." Curious to see where else the music could take them, they decided to try their hands at composing some original material. This led to the swelling, mercurial tune we know now as “Bones.” “It definitely set a tone for the band,” says Lizzy. “In person, we’re quite upbeat and bubbly, but the music allowed us to tap into the most extreme elements of our personality.” Max adds, "From the beginning we knew we had a really unique musical chemistry. We continued to write as much as possible and didn't really think of ourselves as a band until we'd collected a body of material."

"We wrote in secret around both of our day jobs so our intensely personal friendship developed alongside our musical relationship, as we wrote the album,” says Max. Their collaborations evolved into a inter-reliant process: “We share the earliest kernel of an idea and extensively cross edit each other so that our process becomes completely intertwined.”

Translating the recorded tracks to a live stage was a challenge the duo hadn't considered while writing, but support tours with Marina and the Diamonds, GROUPLOVE, and Jessie Ware gave them time to develop into an act the Village Voice called "intoxicating" and voted one of the best shows of the summer.
St. Lucia
St. Lucia
Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, Jean-Philip Grobler grew up performing with the Drakensberg Boys Choir School, learning everything from Bach to minimalist opera. St. Lucia was born out of a moment in early 2010 when Grobler was looking to the past for inspiration. Growing frustrated with a rock project that was starting to feel forced, he delved back into the music that had first inspired him: Fleetwood Mac, Peter Gabriel, Madonna and other songs from his youth.

When The Night, the synth-pop outfit’s full-length, expands upon St. Lucia’s unique brand of dreamy, nostalgic pop. The band recently embarked on a headline tour of the US, selling out all 23 shows (including 4 shows in New York City). And this spring, St. Lucia will serve as direct support on Foster The People’s April/May tour.

Grobler remains heavily involved in projects outside of St. Lucia, serving as producer for the debut album by Brooklyn-based labelmates HAERTS, remixing songs for bands including Passion Pit, Foster the People and Charli XCX, and collaborating with DJs ranging from The Knocks to RAC. St. Lucia has recently toured with Ellie Goulding and Charli XCX, performed at festivals including Lollapalooza, Governors Ball and Firefly, not to mention shared stages with fun., Two Door Cinema Club, Young The Giant, The Shins and more.
Bad Rabbits
Bad Rabbits
Like some kind of sonic Pulp Fiction, Bad Rabbits fuse futuristic R&B and post-rock for a slick one-two punch.
Think Sly Stone fronting Bad Brains, and you're maybe a third of the way there. The multi-cultural Boston five-piece—Fredua "Dua" Boakye [vocals], Sheel Davé [drums], Salim Akram [guitar], Graham Masser [bass], and Santiago Araujo [guitar]—confidently struts through genres with unrestrained swagger and a whole lot of attitude. It's sexy and soulful replete with seismic falsetto about youthful love and "dirty" girls. It's bedroom music as much as it is dance floor music. It's simply American Love.
Bad Rabbits began drumming up a flurry of buzz in 2009 with their self-released EP, Stick Up Kids. Their sweaty, intense live shows solidified an impressive and devout following as they shared the stage with the likes of Wu-Tang Clan, Passion Pit, Deftones, Travie McCoy, T-Pain, GlassJaw, Common and John Legend and played the Vans Warped Tour. However, one pivotal gig with Foxy Shazam in San Francisco helped lay the preliminary groundwork for American Love in 2011.
"After we finished playing, this kid with tattoos and plugs in his ears rolled up to us," remembers Sheel. "He was pissed that he missed the show so I asked if he had a house we could play at. We grew up playing metal shows in basements, so we were down to kick it and jam. The next day, we played his kitchen. He just understood what we were doing musically, and he had all kinds of ideas. That kid was our co-producer B. Lewis."
The band flew Lewis out to Boston, and they started seriously collaborating. Over the course of 2012, they composed, recorded, and fine-tuned the songs that would eventually comprise their debut. Along the way, the group honed their style precisely.
"We wanted to bridge the gap between the two musical worlds we come from," explains Salim. "One of them is classic R&B, and the other is rock. They may seem disparate, but we tried to fuse them."
That mission is certainly accomplished on tracks like the first single and album opener, "We Can Roll". After a sultry keyboard swell, the song climaxes on an anthemic hook fortified by hulking guitars. Dua reveals, "It's like a ride or die anthem for your girlfriend or boyfriend basically. As corny as it may sound, it encompasses that feeling when you get the right person. You want the person to 'roll' anywhere and everywhere with you. It's a trap wedding song."
That theme of young love carries over to "Fall in Love", which Converse will premiere on Valentine's Day 2013. A big horn section pipes along with a swinging vocals and smooth bass. Sultry lyrics bubble up over the pulsating funk on the verse, emblematic of their grasp on 21st century R&B.
In many ways, diversity drives Bad Rabbits. The music reflects the cultural melting pot the band members embody. Sheel, Dua, and Santiago are all first-generation Americans as their parents originally hail from India, Liberia and Ghana, and Italy and Argentina respectively. As a result, the album remains all-inclusive.
"That's where the concept of American Love comes from," Sheel adds. "These diverse backgrounds forming one entity represents what America is. It reminds me of when I used to go see Deftones and GlassJaw as a kid. Their audiences weren't only into a variety of music, but they were also multi-cultural. I always thought that was so cool. We may come from different cultures, but we all bond over music."
American Love is something else that listeners worldwide can bond over. "I feel like everyone can really get to know us with this album," says Salim. “Our hope is that it will introduce new people to Bad Rabbits but also show our progression to those who have already been exposed to the band."
"We're just doing what comes naturally," Sheel concludes. "It isn't about trying to be something we're not. It's about just going with the flow ultimately. We're not forcing anything."
Sit back and fall into American Love. The album was released on May 14, 2013 and debuted at #1 on the iTunes R&B Albums Chart and hit the Top 10 on the Billboard Heatseakers Chart. The band made their national TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! May 17th, followed up by a performance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on May 31st. American Love has received praise from the likes of USA Today, MTV Buzzworthy, Pitchfork, Alternative Press, Vice, Vibe and many more!
Venue Information:
City Hall Plaza (Boston, MA)
1 City Hall Square
Boston, MA, 02201