Wu-Tang Clan at Shrine Expo Hall

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July 27th, 2018 marks the first time the entire 36 Chambers album was played in California. The show was at The Shrine, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album, and let’s just say Da Ruckus was brought.

Throughout all of the great openers (special shout out to the firecracker DJ Livia) the Wu-Tang’s trademark bird loomed overhead. The Shrine was packed, and just about everyone was wearing a Wu-Tang Clan shirt. Everyone was hyped and ready.

The Wu-Tang Clan rushed out in full force with the opening track of 36 Chambers, “Bring Da Ruckus,” and this level of high energy was maintained throughout the show. The guys had a blast on stage, messing around and dancing with each other. The teamwork and talent that made the Wu-Tang Clan so successful were palpable tonight. They managed to sound like 9 unique voices, yet also a single strong force of nature.

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After they performed 36 Chambers, the group paid tribute to Ol’ Dirty Bastard and played several other popular songs. Along with the tribute to ODB, there was a general attitude of gratefulness that permeated the show. The group repeatedly emphasized how important their California fans were to Wu-Tang’s success, and they marveled at the trajectory their careers have taken in the past two and a half decades.

As the show was ending, there was a moment of calm as one by one, several members, including RZA, stood alone at the top of the stage and performed some original verses. Finally, there were mentions of a new collective album, many solo projects, and the impending release of a new feature film called Cut Throat City by RZA. It definitely seemed that the Wu-Tang Clan is overjoyed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their historical, groundbreaking album, but the group isn’t close to being done yet.

-- Madeleine Hamilton

Glassjaw at El Rey Theatre


Glassjaw’s July 20th performance at the El Rey Theatre marks the height of a newly minted era as the band performs tracks from Material Control, their first new album in 15 years. While the band had continued to occasionally release tracks in between albums, the advent of a new complete work has been a welcome shock to the hardcore music world. Without regard to the short time between release and tour, dedicated fans in the packed audience had no problem screaming the lyrics to tracks from both their new and old material. 

The show opened with Hesitation Wounds whose sound captures the essence of American hardcore and punk with heavy guitar riffs and guttural screams interlaced with smooth vocals. The second opener, JPEGMAFIA approached the audience with a sense of intimacy by joining the crowds mosh pit repeatedly during the performance.  His scream filled raps over strange beats caught the ears among the crowd, often before his direct physical presence or flinging sweat did. 

I admit I had never heard of Glassjaw before attending this concert. In fact, I went last minute to cover for another DJ. Once there, I shuffled amongst the twenty to thirty-somethings that filled the crowd, taking care to avoid the mosh pit but also be close enough to see its inner workings while getting a feel for the band’s tone.  I knew to expect hardcore but the two opening acts threw me off to Glassjaw’s comparatively relaxed sounds. These sounds create a melancholic vibe that is both soothing and somewhat stark to the listener.  The hard guitar riffs paired with lead singer Daryl’s smooth coos make for a signature sound that finds its home between emo and hardcore. 

The band opened with a new song from their album “Cut n Run” which captures the sounds of the band throughout its expansive career. While songs like "The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports" captured tones from the band’s height. Overall, Daryl did not talk to the crowd much perhaps showing some apprehension in presenting new material for the first time. 

Despite this, the audience glowed under the bright lights of Glass Jaw’s set. As people sang and moshed along you could tell there was a mutual gratitude from band to fans and vice versa. Fans left with the renewed sense that one of their favorite bands was back with a vengeance and much musical ground still left to cover. Feeling all of this, I left the concert with my own appreciation for Glassjaw and a 25 year’s worth of a band’s history to look into. 

-- T.L. Carroll

Transviolet at The Echo


I've never had a more stellar Monday night in my entire life.

After a long day (and a 45 minute nap in my car before the show) I made my way over to The Echo on July 2nd for Transviolet’s last show. Not only was this the closing show of their first ever U.S. headline, but it was the group's homecoming show as well. I’ve been a fan of this band for about two years and had the chance to see them perform twice before. Both instances were incredible, the first truly left me frozen in place and utterly captivated. However, there was something about this occasion that was more distinct and even elevated.

There are very few artists whose performance genuinely changes the space and atmosphere of the venue, but Transviolet did just that. The members of this group have an obvious passion and love for the music they produce that translates to their stage presence. Small details added a level of depth to the artist's themselves as well as their production: the way eyes would close with certain notes sung, chords played, or individual shouts from the crowd. Pauses that the band held during songs left the audience on their toes, holding in a breath, waiting for more. Once that breath was released, the music seemed to almost possess members of the band, creating movements that represented a strong connection between them and the sound they have created. This environment communicated something that ignited every individual in the room, allowing fans to move with the music just as the performers did.

Often writing about feminist topics and issues, the band recently released their single, Bad Intentions, which they performed that night. Singing songs about topics that deserve to be noticed, Transviolet certainly creates a space in which they are the focus. The group definitely creates justice for these topics as their production is extremely powerful and impactful.

As always, Transviolet put on an amazing show. Til next time!

-- Nina Baker-Mason

James Earl, Duckwrth, and What So Not at the Hollywood Palladium


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.

Japanese Breakfast & Jay Som at The Glass House in Pomona, CA

Michelle Zauner singing in Japanese Breakfast

Michelle Zauner singing in Japanese Breakfast

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.

-Marii Krueger



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