Welcome back to the latest installment of the MoM newsletter. A quick shout out for our annual fundraiser going on right now: As a student radio organization we do not receive operational funding from the university so it's up to us to gather funds to keep us on the air. To support this newsletter, events, and DJs that create the content of KXSC, help us reach our fundraising goal atkxsc.org/donate!
James Earl / Duckwrth / What So Not – Friday April 6, 2018
By Madeleine Benn / Madame Psychosis – So It Goes…
This was my first time at The Palladium, so I didn’t realize just how big the crowd was going to get, but apparently James Earl, the opening DJ, was very aware that he had maybe a ninth of the audience to keep entertained. But, if he didn’t give it more consideration than the ticket-holders for that night’s complete festivities gave him then, I don’t know what to tell you. He knew his role as the first hype man and he did his job. He played regular party mixes and encouraged fill-in- the-blank moments which kept the crowd involved and dancing and not ignoring him. Overall, he was not the most notable thing about the night.
Duckwrth was on next which was a surprise to me because I had been told that he was the headliner, but that’s okay, I was rolling with it. Here’s the thing though, most of the rest of the audience, who by this time had made it through security (that’s a whole other story), were not rolling with it. Now I know (at the time I didn’t) that What So Not, the DJ that was the actual headliner, is an EDM artist and whoever paired his and Duckwrth’s audiences together should lose their job. Jesus were they mismatched. Only at the beginning of each other’s set were people not idling outside. Then it did a complete flip-flop. Anyway, Duckwrth had released the music video for his song Tamagotchi not two days before the show, so I thought there’d be some excitement over that, but other than making it his entrance song… nothing. His set lasted about an hour, but he was super active on stage, jumping over his stage props, taking off his shirt, etc. So that must have been exhausting. He finally caught the attention of the What So Not crowd with his last song, both because he declared it as his last song and because it is his most jammin’. It was one of my personal favorites MICHUUL. and it definitely had people up. Honestly this is the song you should get introduced to Duckwrth with (which is why we’ve hyperlinked it above, so check it out!).
As for What So Not, all I can say is that I finally get EDM music… or at least I understand why it’s something you have to experience. When I first saw the warning signs outside the auditorium for “INTENSE STROBE LIGHTING EFFECTS”, I said to myself, “What is this a haunted house?”. But a few drinks in, several types of smoke mixed in the air all around me and different colors and lengths of lights like that and I could see how it could be nauseating. The graphics behind the DJ were mesmerizing, but you couldn’t look at them for too long a stretch at a time because at that point the venue was pretty packed, so my friend and I really had to stick together. Ultimately though EDM is not for me. If you are looking to get into this artist though, the song that all of his fans seemed to yell along to was High You Are, so I would start there.
Michelle Zauner, who formed Japanese Breakfast in 2015, and Melina Duarte, who began
recording as Jay Som in 2012, performed at the Glass House in Pomona on Saturday, the last
show of their short-lived 2018 tour together. Since the two headliners toured along with Mitski in 2016, they have garnered a passionate, dedicated group of fans who seem to trek out to their shows, again and again, becoming a group that seems as close-knit of friends as Zauner and Duarte appear to be.
Mentioning the names Japanese Breakfast or Jay Som to a general group of people won’t garner much recognition, yet it was obvious that they have their own cult fellowship that seems willing to follow them out to each and every one of their shows. The doors only opened at 8 PM, yet when I arrived at 7:30, there was already a line of a hundred people waiting – inside, a pair of girls joked loudly that they wished they could have been closer to the stage because it was “the one time two Asian American women are the headliners at a show.”
What Zauner, who is half-Korean, and Duarte, who is Filipino-American, have in common,
along with their other frequent tour mates and friends, Mitski, and Sasami Ashworth (previously of Cherry Glazerr), is that their unintended yet obvious representation of Asian women in the indie music scene, which until recently was majorly dominated by white men, attracts a certain crowd. Along with myself, the friends I attended the show with, and others I recognized from attending other Japanese Breakfast and Jay Som performances in LA, I noticed that the crowd was filled with young, excited, Asian American kids who saw themselves represented on stage and found within the music some kind of profound relatability.
After Meg Duffy of Hand Habits opened the show with a moving set, Jay Som performed as a
five-piece band, who displayed a rare chemistry and closeness as a group by improvising surreal, flawless instrumental transitions between each song. Not a moment passed where Duarte or her bandmates had to pause and consider what would come next – when the group’s 2017 single “The Bus Song” began, whose music video was directed by the other headliner, Michelle Zauner, the crowd became extremely overwhelmed, exclaiming the signature line, without planning or hesitation, “BUT I LIKE THE BUS” at the top of their lungs, to which Duarte just muttered, “Oh my god…”
Japanese Breakfast closed out the show in her iconic, all-white outfit and light up sneakers, an
ensemble she has worn at each of her performances in the past year, almost as if “JBrekkie” is an alter ego of Zauner in which she vocalizes in autotune and sings songs about “falling in love with a robot” (her closer, “Machinist”). She faces the crowd, holds out her hand to the audience, and jumps excitedly to each one of her self-proclaimed bangers – yet she also expressed that she felt her music, lyrically, is filled with her own complex emotion, saying she felt “it’s so special when a large group of people come together and feel something together”. This really came to light during a song she wrote while grieving for her late mother, “Till Death”, when the audience stayed silent in respect for her vulnerability and authenticity in her performance.
Japanese Breakfast herself struck up a conversation with the security guard at the front of the
stage mid-performance, introducing him as Christian. He advised her against her attempt to crowd surf during the final song, so instead, she wailed her final notes in her dreamy, high
pitched voice as she fell into his arms, off the stage and alongside the crowd who screamed and cheered her on. The adrenaline, spontaneity, and passion for that performance, at that moment, was found somewhere within everyone in the room. We were in complete support of each other – which is why I’ll continue to follow Jay Som and Japanese Breakfast as musicians and role models wholeheartedly, along with, I presume, every other hyped up Asian kid in the crowd that night.
March is a time for celebration. The weather is warming up, spring break is coming, March 4th is the only day of the year that makes a sentence; everything is looking up. On top of that, MoM is here to deliver unto you the music you need to make it through the week. Special shout out to DJ Andres Guzman for his review on Sylvan LaCue with Apologies in Advance. Check it out alongside with MoM's usual suspects below.
As February comes to a close, we want to give a big shout out to MoM's very own R&B Director, Lani Renaldo, for spearheading KXSC's Black History Month initiative. By all measures, its been hugely successful. Of course, this doesn't end March 1st, and we have more things planned going forward. Keep your eyes out for more as the year goes on, and as always, keep it locked to KXSC! And here are some new adds for you.
Another dope playlist by KXSC's own Natalie Lee! Here's what she has to say about it:
"In honor of the start of Black History Month this playlist is all black bands/bands with black members. There's a cool mix of punk, garage rock, ska, etc. Here's to more punk music by POC!"
Check out the playlist here.
For all y'all who had the day off, hope your extended weekend was nice & relaxed. To those who had to go to work, at least the traffic wasn't too bad. Imported a review from Chile for this week; our Soft Rock director, Virginia, reports from abroad. As always, whether you're listening on the air, online, or on your phone, keep it locked to KXSC.
A playlist curated by alum and former R&B Director of KXSC, Zoe Citterman! Here's what she has to say about it:
While we’re not taught black history in our classrooms, it’s all around us. Whether intentional or not, American popular music provides an alternative textbook, giving a platform to voices that would have otherwise been silenced.
American popular music IS Black American Music. This month, I encourage you to look at your favorite songs and examine their roots.
Check out the playlist here.
KXSC Hip Hop director Natasha Doshi curates a playlists of music by black women & femmes for #BlackHistoryMonth