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It seems slightly blasphemous to have to type it out like this – and believe you me I’m still wincing slightly at this point – but the album that truly taught me how to love the Deftones’ music was Koi No Yokan. But while I now understand that it is far from their best work (that honour probably belongs to Diamond Eyes – cheers Greer), I think I needed the benefit of the superb range of melodies and slower dynamics showcased on their seventh studio record in order to ease myself into a band that had seemed, upon first glance, a bit too sonically uneven for me. Such a sentiment may not endear me to the most stalwart of purists, but honestly, I can think of no better purpose for an album whose title means “premonition of love”.

As I write this, Chino Moreno and co. are now on a well-deserved break after an aggressive leg of touring that saw them visit ten destinations in both Oceania and Asia. I also think it’s extremely worth highlighting out that the Koi No Yokan Tour was actually the second tour in a row in which the Sacramento band actually came out to South East Asia to perform. Now, I’ve regularly made a fuss (especially here on the Sput) about how this region as a whole isn’t really been the best of places to be in if you’re the type of person that likes to catch live shows…

I’m curious if the musician behind the Trash McSweeney alias dissociates from reality whenever he morphs into his idiosyncratic performer’s role.

Or, from a different point of view, whether or not the McSweeney persona is actually a commune of fragmented, detached personalities it has encountered over its lifespan and subsequently absorbed into some scattered, diffused on-stage character.

An argument could be made that the man behind the Trash figure has a roaring case of dissociative identity disorder to complement his synesthesia. When looking back at all the characters, elaborate stage settings, artistic canvases (human and non-human), and theatrical thematic material The Red Paintings have cultivated and performed with over the years, Trash might just very well be The Hatter from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (or some other vile character from the deepest, darkest recesses of Dr. Seuss’s mind). Oscillating to-and-fro from the aquatic to the extraterrestrial to a Japanese flair with the geisha costumes, and then incorporating elements of all three paradigms on the band’s current tour with Mindless Self Indulgence (later slated to be The Pineapple Thief when they arrive in the UK), there is a palpable bit of madness exhibited here. Look no further than the hundreds (okay, maybe “tens”) of separate Facebook pages the man’s currently operating devoted solely to this record (examples here, here, here, and here — in order, the band’s Facebook page, his personal artist page, the The Revolution is Never

Photo courtesy of Coachella

“I feel like I’m going to go home and throw up a sandbox for my small child,” Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis cracked near the beginning of his band’s closing set Sunday night. At this point the sand was less of a nuisance and more an actual hazard, whipping up into your eyes, your mouth, your nose, your ears – my friend remarked that he entered Coachella as one race and came out another. The standard festival uniform transformed from baring as much skin as possible with an emphasis on neon colors to shutting everything off with anything at hand, turning a legion of fans into balaclava-wearing music terrorists. The gum I had been gnawing on for hours grew suspiciously in size as tiny particles added a bit of extra crunch to my mouth feel. The storm buffeted the main stage, whipsawing the sound across the festival grounds and turning Peppers mainstays like “Dani California” and “Can’t Stop” into warped contortions of themselves, as if the sound guy had had a bad case of epilepsy among the fade and balance dials. It wasn’t a great loss – as far as headliners go, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were the same-old-same-old, playing a strangely subdued set of hits and new songs that never really latched onto anyone. Sure, they were good – the rhythm…

Photo courtesy of the Getty

For the first time in my years attending Coachella – whether it’s because Sputnik is finally ascending to the big leagues or the organizers were annoyed at my yearly badgering – I was granted a media pass. This is not as cool as it initially sounds – i.e., I can’t go backstage or to the VIP and do coke with Pusha T,  nor can I flash my bracelet at security and bypass the huddled masses at the general admission lines. I can, however, acquire free water and fruit bars (shout out to Fruttare! your strawberry rules) at the media area, as well as use bathrooms that aren’t piled high with MDMA shits and don’t stink (quite as bad). I also got to go backstage at the Do LaB and see just how that party of water guns, painted dancers and endless, twitchy bass functions from noon to midnight, as well as check out the VJ booth at the Sahara tent, an island of sanity and artwork amidst a sea of shirtless, sweaty ravers. It’s where the VJ (video jockey) and his team work out the 3D video mapping visuals for the DJs who perform, where light shows are as integral a part of someone’s set as the music is. It’s also where women in high heels lay out on the couch and guys sip Heineken self-importantly – at Coachella, your power and coolness directly correlates with how many…

Photo courtesy of Coachella

So four years and four Coachellas later for me, and you’d think the desert festival had lost the capacity to surprise. Indeed, the checklist for a Coachella Weekend goes something like this: Up-and-coming indie band makes good on their promise via rousing early afternoon set that ensures double the audience for next weekend; sunburns will be accrued at melanoma-threatening rates; sound problems will invariably affect what could have been an amazing set; the unholy signature dish that is Garlic Crab Fries will simultaneously thrill and torpedo my digestive system; the weather will turn on you; a band I never would have predicted beforehand will become my favorite set; the shadow of Daft Punk will hang heavy over the entire weekend, regardless of the fact that most of the attendant rumors come from neon-tank-adorned bros who first heard of the French duo after “Stronger” introduced the pair to a whole new audience of college-age Natty Ice fans. And on and on it goes.

So, to get it out of the way – no, Daft Punk didn’t play. This despite many a false sighting, including a literal stampede to the Gobi tent after a trailer played before TNGHT’s set, the same teaser that later played before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ main stage gig. There were no big surprises for the weekend – no offense to Phoenix, who killed it, but no one has been surprised by anything R.

Courtesy of LA Times

In the baking heat of Coachella, which begins this upcoming weekend at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA, there’s only two places to escape the 100-degree+ heat: the green-lit, hypnotic techno Heineken dome where the titular drink and light show assaults your senses and your taste buds in exchange for glorious, glorious air conditioning and relentless doses of tech house; or the Do LaB, a pop-up piece of performance art and a potpourri of oddball electronic artists that this year includes Gaslamp Killer, Andreilien, Kaminanda, G Jones and a number of others that would likely be more comfortable at Low End Theory than out in the middle of the desert leading half-clothed festivalgoers with eyes the size of quarters into fevered worship of the bass. The music is only half the fun at the Do LaB, though; the essential piece is the water cannons that see almost constant use, drenching the audience and any other passerby who might stop fora  second to see the wildly costumed dancers that roam the stage.

It’s an interesting experience, and more importantly a refreshing one, both physically and musically – most of the artists at the Do LaB are mostly unknown to the average attendee. It’s also a preview for one of southern California’s more criminally under-looked festivals in the summertime. Lightning in

The Twin Towers @LIVE music festivals have been an integral part of the Formula One race weekend in Kuala Lumpur for the past few years. While the Sepang International Circuit at the edge of the city is undoubtedly where the bulk of the action tends to take place, the festivals have also played an important role as a much-welcomed conduit between the excitement generated by playing host to one of modern motorsports’ premier events and the city’s general populace. Last year’s edition of Twin Towers @LIVE saw former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, along with Kelis (of “Milkshake” fame), and K-Pop outfit SNSD paint the town purple, while the debut iteration of the festival back in 2011 featured American rock band Hoobastank as headliners, with support provided by local acts Yuna, The Azenders, and rapper Joe Flizzow.

The most unusual feature of Twin Towers @LIVE is immediately evident in its name: the music festival is held at the base of the Petronas Twin Towers, the interconnected double megaliths of concrete and steel which are arguably Malaysia’s most recognizable architectural feature:

The Petronas Twin Towers

Admission to Twin Towers @LIVE is free, but a small amount of “Fanzone” passes are distributed to the general public – typically in association with the purchase of Petronas Motorsports merchandise and promotional events. Admission to the Fanzone provides festival-goers a direct and more intimate view of the weekend’s proceedings.

CityCop and Les Doux are two bands that have been making names for themselves in the post-hardcore/emo scene, each releasing a handful of material that has been very well received.  And rightfully so, as each band employs a chaotic yet cathartic brand of hardcore that draws inspiration from various acts such as Touche Amore and Pianos Become the Teeth.  While both bands differ very much in regards to their inherent sounds, teaming up for the Family Ties/Labors of Love split feels fitting.  The result is a varied, yet wholly wonderful combination of two truly talented bands.  Luckily, we have an official stream of the split for you to enjoy!

I was pumped for this show a good month before it even happened– as soon as it was announced.  Few bands have been making as big of waves in the modern emo scene than empire! empire! (I was a lonely estate) and The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, so my excitement was warranted.  Teaming up for one show made for the perfect combination, as both bands have a similar style and delivery.  It also worked out that empire! empire! is a one man band, thus needing The World is… to fill in for the positions that Kieth Latinen could not possibly play.  The result was a seamless transition between the two, and wonderfully played show overall.

Despite the “big” names attached, the real show stealer was a local band called Saintseneca.  Hailing from Columbus, the band is a four piece folk group full of mulch-instrumentalists.  Without traditional percussion, the bulk of their music is comprised of twangy strings and heartfelt vocals.  Each selection was as beautiful and intriguing as the last, with each member swapping out duties ranging from guitar to ukelele.  It made for a very dynamic performance, always keeping the crowd on their toes not knowing what to expect next.  I had heard of the band, and had even dabbled in a bit of their material.  Never did I expect to be so impressed, as they were truly the band of the night.  Arrowhead happened to be…

Proving that an impressively played festival set can pay future dividends, yours truly dug deep into his hip pocket to see Yellowcard after they had made quite the positive impression during their 40 minute set last year. Considering that previous to that Australian performance, the Floridian quintet shared headlining duties with Sum 41, then it was safe to say that us Aussies had been craving a full Yellowcard headline set for quite some time… And the rather intimate setting of The Hi-Fi Bar in central Melbourne was the perfect venue for the first of two sold-out shows.

First up for the night were local pop-rockers For Our Hero. Having never heard a single song by these youngsters before this night, I actually came away rather impressed. Sure, it was pretty safe stuff without any real distinguishing point… But in their spot of warming up an audience who were predominantly waiting to hear a band such as Yellowcard, then For Our Hero achieved their objective. They sounded clear, crisp & catchy with just enough variety to get by. If they can grow into their own sound as they gain experience, then this could be a band with a bright future.

Continuing the “hero” theme, Australia’s 2nd favourite pop-punk outfit Heroes For Hire were up next. I’m actually a fan of their recorded output thus far in their career. Again, they don’t do anything that hasn’t been done by superior overseas bands, but they do so in…

What better way to warm up on the first day of winter than to head along to your local sweat-box and listen to some quality music? On the said date in 2012, I thought I’d take in an interesting trio of acts put together at Festival Hall in Melbourne, with seemingly the only thing linking The Jezabels, Lights & Snakadaktal being that all three outfits contained female vocalists.

First up it was the distinctively named young local quintet Snakadaktal. Playing a kind of folky brand of indie-pop, the band impressed me with their tight musicianship and overall maturity. Sure, their sound is probably not suited to a 5,000 odd capacity venue, but they thankfully didn’t compromise their style for the sake of the occasion. Interestingly, Snakadaktal ordered their set so as to initially suggest to a potentially unknowing crowd that Sean Kelly was the outfit’s only vocalist. Of course, those in the know would anticipate Phoebe Cockburn taking over for the most part, even if her voice seemed just a bit too fragile in a live setting. Overall, however, this was an impressive support slot for an up-and-coming band whose forthcoming debut LP should hopefully make for a rewarding listen.

Next up was Canadian electro-pop artist Valerie Poxleitner… Better known as Lights. Since her sound wasn’t exactly similar to the night’s headliners, it was always going to be fascinating as to how the crowd would take the diminutive brunette… And I think it’s fair to say that…

My introduction to dredg was as them as a live band in the fall of 2005. At that time dredg were already over a decade into their career and it wasn’t until almost a decade later, last night, that I was able to see them again, but it was not to celebrate a new album or a long tour. Instead, it was to hear their 2005 album Catch Without Arms which was played in its entirety. So in a way it was almost as if those seven years in between performances was instantly zapped out of existence for an hour and a half on a cool June night. Their set began promptly at 10:20 PM to a packed and sweltering Roxy. Having seen The Gaslight Anthem play the small Sunset strip club only weeks earlier, it seemed as though capacity was raised by over one hundred for dredg, as the floor was packed into an airtight mass of young and old. Dredg knew exactly why we all were there and got things started with “Ode To The Sun”. The crowd surged forward, creating an ever tightening knot of raised voices and pumping fists. As they worked their way through the album, it was obvious that dredg had thoroughly prepared for the event as every interlude and sample used on the studio recording was heard blaring out of the PA in an eerie weirdness between songs, even when the band themselves were lightheartedly conversing with the audience underneath the noise.…

In some alignment of the stars, the weekend of May 26/27 saw the brilliant Slam Dunk Fest hit the UK in a ray of brilliant sunshine – two distinctly annual events for the price of one – as the two-day celebration of rock, punk and metal arrived in Leeds for its seventh year running. The festival, which also includes a southern leg at Hatfield University, welcomed an absolutely goliath line-up this year which saw Taking Back Sunday headline the main stage, supported on stages across Leeds Students’ Union by bands like Motion City Soundtrack, Architects, Mayday Parade and Fightstar frontman Charlie Simpson in his capacity as a solo artist.


So in the blazing heat of northern England (I just wrote that? Wow) Leeds was a buzz of Converse from the city centre up the hill to the Students’ Union. One of the things that strikes me about Slam Dunk now is how communal it all feels; a huge number of artists play the festival (and for a really good price) but there’s no great sprawl between stages and everything is close enough to feel like everybody present is a part of the same event. This year, the site layout (including a marquee stage: more on that later) was perfect for getting about quickly, and it needed to be, too, with the heat.


Lower Than Atlantis (source: www.marianneharris.co.uk)


After watching Cartel play a stroke of an acoustic set in a secluded spot, the first band I got…

With the exception of those looking to be comfortably seated, it is fair to state that most live music fans prefer their gigs in smaller venues where you can get up close to the performing musicians. Hell, many even automatically pass on 40,000+ stadium events and raise an eyebrow when even their favourite artists are booked at an arena. Exceptions are few and far between, but I recall an article from a couple of years back, where the live show reviewer wished that a NYC show had been held at an arena, rather than a club. Why? The singer was Florence Welch and the room was quite simply not large enough to do her booming voice justice. At the time, I thought “Codswallop”… Having now seen the flame-haired songstress perform live at the 10,000+ capacity Rod Laver Arena, I can understand where the writer was coming from.

First up, however, was Blood Orange… the solo side-project of Devonte Hynes (better known as Lightspeed Champion). Undoubtedly a strange choice as support, he clearly got the gig due to his sporadic writing and producing partnership with Florence + The Machine. Armed with nothing but a laptop (complete with the annoying lit-up fruit beaming into the audience), a keyboard & his guitar, Hynes struggled to garner any interest from the crowd apart from the strange images portrayed on his projector. In all honesty though, it was a decent half-hour set, with the sultry melodies & Hynes’ flamboyant guitar-work often shining through.…

Winter has come way too early to South-Eastern Australia this year, and by the sea was the last place I would usually want to be on a frigid Wednesday evening. On this particular night, however, the short tram ride out of the Melbourne CBD to St.Kilda’s charming Palais Theatre would be well and truly worth it, with City & Colour adding warmth to the first of two sold-out performances. The venue itself is an odd one for concerts: an all-seated bona fide theatre which plays home to everything from stage-shows to film festivals, and from comedians to rock gigs. Usually, I’d prefer my venues a little more – shall we say – beer-soaked, but complementing one of the world’s truly great voices with the acoustics of a high ceiling & some beautiful architecture (which was brought to life by a genuinely unexpected light-show) seemed very appropriate… Even if a portion of the strange cross-section of folk and hardcore fans may not have seen an actual theatre in their lives!

First up this evening would be the act known as Bahamas – aka 31 year old Toronto singer-songwriter Afie Jurvanen. Having just joined the touring City & Colour quintet as lead guitarist, Jurvanen casually paces out all by his lonesome tonight, with nothing but an acoustic guitar, his voice and a spotlight. In front of a half-capacity audience, he initially seems uncomfortable, taking two or three songs to truly find his rhythm and win over a crowd who most…

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