FESTIVAL REVIEW: Highlights from Pickathon 2019

I’m somewhat of a veteran outdoor music festivals—growing up in Seattle, my hippy musician parents would tote me around to local festivals like Folklife and Bumbershoot, and several summer music camps throughout the west coast. By ten years-old, I was well-acquainted with dusty Birkenstock-clad feet, the usefulness of a good waterproof fanny pack, and the sneaky ways to smuggle a little hooch past festival security.

Sudan Archives performing at Pickathon 2019. Courtesy of Pickathon.

That said, I have never been to a music festival quite as perfect as Portland’s Pickathon. It’s probably the best outdoor festival I’ve ever attended, because it’s actually as diverse, sustainable, and well-organized as it promotes itself to be. The meticulously curated bill is the cherry on top.

Though this year was my first, 2019 marks Pickathon’s 21st birthday. The festival, located on the idyllic 80-acre Pendarvis Farm in southeast Portland, began in 1998 as a small bluegrass festival and has grown into a 6-stage camp-out extravaganza showcasing a large variety of musical styles and artists. In fact, Pitchfork named Pickathon “The Most Unique Music Festival of 2018.”

For someone like me who loves variety in their festival experience and blending genres, it was so awesome to see some of my favorite roots-y groups like Lucius—the duo of Jess Wolf and Holly Laessig—and Fruit Bats, the quirky indie-folk project of songwriter Eric Johnson, and then turn around and catch artists like the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band, fierce rap artist Karma Rivera, and blistering noise punk band, Help.

Along with genre diversity, Pickathon also does an excellent job of showcasing women and non-binary artists—an issue many festivals have come under fire for in recent years. Pickathon, mindful of the gap in gender representation on festival bills, featured 44% female/non-binary artists this year, including Black Belt Eagle Scout, fronted by queer, indigenous artist Katherine Paul,  tender Australian singer-songwriter, Julia Jacklin, and Canadian ambient-folk artist Ora Cogan.

Pickathon is also incredibly sustainable. Along with using solar power, recycling, and composting, I never saw a single-use cup, plate, or utensil used on the grounds. Instead, when you arrive, they give you a metal cup—which most people attach to their belt with a stylish carabiner. There are also wooden tokens you use to get compostable plates and wooden utensils for your meals. Despite seeing about 3,500 attendees per day, the festival’s green dishware system works well to eliminate the need for plastics and decrease the festival’s overall footprint—and it becomes a powerful part of the festival’s culture, too. As one happy five-year-old said as he stood behind me in the dinner line, “This cup on my belt makes me feel cool.”

It’s true, the diversity and sustainability is a really cool part of Pickathon—as is the festival’s and intimate, down-to-earth feel. Pickathon’s relaxed vibe seems to stem from the beauty of the site and from how well-organized Pickathon is.

If you’re camping onsite, they’ve truly thought of everything­string lights line every wooded trail to light the way to your campsite, there are outdoor showers for $6, ice is available on-site, and there’s even multiple kid areas and a breastfeeding tent. If you don’t want to pack in a tent, you can pay a little more for them to set one up for you. They’ve also got a sizeable staff that are all quite familiar with the grounds and stages and can help you get where you need to be, and they’re all happy to help because Pickathon treats them so well. (Along with free all-you-can-eat food and drinks, they offered perks like free massages backstage for staff and artists.)

The down-to-earth feel impacts the way you experience the music at the festival too—while some booked it to catch big-name artists like Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh, most people were content hanging at their favorite stage on a blanket, or wandering around with no agenda. This was my favorite way to do the festival because it left me open to discovering new music—like that of the incredible ambient folk artist Ora Cogan, from British Columbia—and it allowed me to sink into the calming natural environment.

In fact, I was just roaming the grounds when I landed at the Lucky Barn, a refurbished, air-conditioned barn full of eclectic items and a gorgeous living-room style stage. The Lucky Barn is a little different than other stages because in between songs artists are interviewed by journalists and radio personalities, giving listeners more context into their music. Midday Saturday, I caught the latter end of rapper Karma Rivera’s face-melting set. Between ruckus-inducing songs that had listeners on their feet, she and Fabi Reyna of She Shreds Magazine dove into issues of race and gentrification in Portland and how that has impacted the way rap music—and black people in general—are received in the area. The fact that a discussion like that could happen live on-stage in a constructive way is a testament to Pickathon’s efforts towards inclusion. (Though that isn’t to say they couldn’t do better. Karma was one of the only rap artists on the bill, and I second what she said during her Lucky Barn set—Pickathon could use even more representation of black artists and musical styles!)

Friends dancing to The Beths. Courtsey of Pickathon.

Another highlight for me was catching a band I’ve loved for years—Fruit Bats—in one of the most incredible listening areas I’ve ever seen. You can tell that Pickathon’s organizers really consider which stages will best suit which artists, and that takes the listening experience to the next level for festival-goers.

The Woods Stage, made entirely from tree branches, looks a lot like a colorfully lit driftwood fort. It’s nestled inside a clearing in the woods where many lay their blankets, sit in chairs, or rest in the first-come first-serve hammocks in the back. As Fruit Bats’ songwriter Eric Johnson sang tracks from their new album, Gold Past Life, I sipped a beer, swung in a hammock, and stared up at the rustling tree tops. It was the perfect setting for the shimmering, introspective indie-folk Fruit Bats served up.

Finally, I understand why people come back to Pickathon year after year. Pickathon’s organizers have put in the time and effort—and then some—to make it a truly beautiful, memorable, and fun annual event to be a part of, and there is a real feel of family among the festival-goers. I came back with a nature high, achy dancing legs, and a whole list of new artists to delve into. What more could I ask for?

PLAYING CINCY: Cincinnati Throws Down At Bunbury Music Festival


Last weekend, the city of Cincinnati gathered along the Ohio River for the 7th annual Bunbury Music Festival. The three-day fest featured headliners like The 1975, Greta Van Fleet and Fall Out Boy, along with impressive supporting acts such as Machine Gun Kelly, Girl Talk, Run The Jewels, and Sublime with Rome. Local talent, like TRIIIBE, was also represented.

Machine Gun Kelly performing at Bunbury Music Festival 2019. Photos by Victoria Moorwood.

Bunbury is a perfect example of why festival veterans prefer the smaller fest experience. With over 50,000 in attendance, compared to Coachella’s 250,000+, festival-goers had room to spread out amongst the vendors and multiple stages that stretched along the riverfront.

Miller Lite and local Braxton Brewing Co. provided the drinks with tents near every stage and a wide variety of over 20 local and delectable eateries–like INJOY, Mikey’s Late Night Slice, and Island Noodles–arrived in food truck fleets for attendees to enjoy.

The lineup hosted a complimentary mix of alternative, rock, hip hop, and nostalgia. Reignwolf stood out as a wildly talented rock trio, while MGK and Run The Jewels held down the fest’s hip hop and Fall Out Boy and Stone Temple Pilots reignited 2000’s favorites. Girl Talk had the entire crowd dancing with his signature mix of pop and EDM hits.

Local hip hop trio TRIIIBE kept the energy going all through Sunday with a set that vibrated positivity. “Say, ‘I love you!’ Now, ‘Say I love me!'” they prompted the crowd.

(Left) Pxvce, Aziza Love, and Siri Imani of TRIIIBE performing at Bunbury on Sunday, June 2.

“I feel like healing is its own vibration. Music carries and supports that vibration,” Aziza Love of TRIIIBE told AudioFemme. “Joining with people we’ve never met before in that same space, to invite them to do the same thing, I think is so powerful.”

Bunbury’s lineup maintained the audience’s energy throughout the three days, with fireworks ramping up the wow-factor on the very first night. The amount and variety of foods, spacious and spread out location and lineup marked Bunbury as a Cincinnati summer highlight.

Only 358 days ’til the next one!

Canadian singer Taylor Janzen singing her Bunbury set.

INTERVIEW: L’Rain, Spellling, and Boy Harsher to Embrace the Experimental at Basilica SoundScape 2018

Just a short ride on Amtrak from Penn Station, Hudson – with its quaint brick buildings, historic architecture, and riverside views – has become an enclave for New York City’s artistic expats. One of its architectural centerpieces rises from the city’s industrial past: Basilica Hudson, a sprawling 1800s foundry reborn in 2010 as a concert hall and community space, thanks in part to its somehow stunning acoustics. The waterfront land it sits on, just South of the tracks, is bucolic enough that camping visitors are offered tips on tick safety, and they’ll need it this weekend, when a few hundred noiseniks, metalheads, vinyl nerds, and lovers of the avant-garde descend on Hudson for the seventh annual Basilica SoundScape, taking place September 14th and 15th.

It’s a festival that bucks festival tradition, booking acts whose oeuvre often falls far outside of mainstream tastes for intimate performances in the Basilica’s dramatic main hall. Organized by Brandon Stosuy and Basilica Hudson co-founders Melissa Auf der Maur and Tony Stone, SoundScape kicked off its inaugural year in 2012 with noise artists and their “machines” and a dance party hosted by queer Satanists, Rainbow in the Dark (the collective returns this year to soundtrack SoundScape’s Saturday afterparty; the other, on Friday, is hosted by AudioFemme). Musical performances are augmented by readings, psychedelic art installations, a flea market, record fair, and local eats. It is, as Auf der Maur describes it, an “immersive pilgrimage” for those with dark tastes and open minds.

But beyond engaging its attendees with an uncommon experience, Basilica SoundScape offers experimental musicians something invaluable – a forum in which to try out new sounds and connect with fans and peers alike. For artists like Spellling (who plays Friday) and L’Rain (who plays Saturday), two very personal projects that defy genre classification, events like SoundScape are a rare and perfect fit. Both acts have found themselves on the bill at a wide range of events, from metal shows to R&B-focused events to jazz-centric salons; both say the fluidity of their styles allows them an opportunity to connect with vastly different audiences – as long as the crowd is open and receptive. And at Basillica SoundScape, that’s the crux of the whole program – to bring together disparate styles under the umbrella of experimentalism and offer them to listeners frothing at the mouth for outré encounters.

“In my live show I try to make people feel maybe a little bit uncomfortable. Not like I’m doing anything that weird, but I like to reorient them in the space and [make them] more aware of themselves than me,” says Taja Cheek, whose project L’Rain debuted last year with a widely praised self-titled LP built on fragmentary arrangements that drift between shoegaze, sound collage, and soul. Though it started as solo work aided by producer Andrew Lappin, Cheek’s live performances now feature improvisatory musicians Buz Donald on drums, Devin Starks on bass, and Ben Katz on synths and brass. “We’re on the cusp of a lot of different styles and genres so we’ve done lots of different sorts of bills, which has highlighted different parts of our performance,” she says.

Taja Cheek, a.k.a L’Rain: “I still feel like I’m learning a lot about what this project is and what it can be.”

For Tia Cabral, the Bay Area-based musician behind Spellling, SoundScape “feels like an ideal sort of coming together – so much intersectionality and multiplicity.” Like L’Rain, Spellling began as a solo endeavor with roots in multiple genres, culminating in 2017 debut Pantheon of Me and encompassing a sound that Cabral herself struggles to define. “One of the most exciting things is the various types of people that come together for music; [it] feels like the closest thing to spirituality and relationship building in this generation. It’s very satisfying to walk into a room and feel unsure if your sound will reach folks and if they’ll have an open heart to it, and watching that happen, or not happen. It’s always humbling and exciting and strange at times.”

Tia Cabral, a.k.a. Spellling: “I let myself be surprised by the process and return to that place of innocence and playfulness that exists in the sound I’m making.”

Cabral was inspired to create music in part by walking into those same spaces, observing and absorbing the ways various Bay Area musicians would create sonic tapestries built from loops and noise. “I feel like a lot of artists will be prepared to bring something special and new to [SoundScape] because of how unique it is,” she says, noting that she’ll likely debut some new tracks she’s been working on, too. “I’m still absorbing a lot about music – and my music – in a live context. A lot of festivals are more about the crowd than about the artist sometimes – this seems like such a good balance between the artist being able to give more of their energy and time in an exchange.”

Like Cabral, Jae Matthews of Boy Harsher – an electronic post-punk duo from Northampton by way of Savannah – says that stumbling into the noise scene and witnessing first hand the innovations there allowed her to see a place for herself in its ranks. Originally a film graduate student, Matthews met partner Gus Muller in a repurposed storefront church where he was throwing experimental shows; soon enough the two had opened up their own space in former gallery but needed a local band with a minimalist bent to fill out bills, and so Boy Harsher was born. After completing a grueling tour with The Soft Moon last spring, Boy Harsher have been flying out to experimental electronic festivals in Berlin, Hungary, Lithuania, and Detroit, but Matthews says she’s particular excited about SoundScape because “it’s a community based festival – no one overlaps, you get the opportunity to see everyone, and it’s a mixture of performance, music, and readings.” Matthews approaches lyric-writing from a literary standpoint (she’s also at work on a book project) but says performing live is all about the give-and-take between herself and the audience.

Boy Harsher’s Jae Matthews: “I was very fascinated with underground performance artists and it was really special to go to a basement and see someone rip a wild set.”

“When I’m performing I’ll use the audience response as a mechanism how to respond,” she says. “If I can tell it’s a crowd that wants to be more aggressive, and really wants to feel it and have that type of smacking visceral connection then yeah, I’ll go deep.” She remembers playing a show at local Hudson bar The Half Moon years ago attended by a sparse, but “devoted” crowd. After their SoundScape set, Boy Harsher DJs AudioFemme’s afterparty at The Half Moon, along with Eartheater and Becka Diamond. DJing, she says, “takes a different level of understand and concentration – just like knowledge of music and what you have and what it means to other people.” She admits she’s something of a novice in that realm but says her DJ sets gravitate toward “some weirder picks that maybe are more ostracizing and strange… or maybe super invigorating for whoever’s there.”

If there’s any place where oddities can be truly embraced, it’s certainly Basilica SoundScape. Cheek, Matthews, and Cabral are also looking forward to becoming spectators – during sets from Grouper, FlucT, Miho Hatori, Lightning Bolt, Photay, and others – yet another way in which the festival blurs the line between artist and audience. Whether that encompasses L’Rain’s ability to “disrupt people’s expectations” as she puts it, or Spellling’s stated intention to encompass the “fluidity and boundlessness that can exist in the dreaming mind,” or Boy Harsher’s filmic energy, which Matthews hopes will “transport [the audience] somewhere else,” it all comes together under the soaring, vaulted beams of that former foundry for one fevered weekend in September.

Single day and weekend passes are still available for Basilica SoundScape 2018 – more info here.

PLAYING DETROIT: Whateverfest Brings Detroit’s Disparate Music Scenes Together

When you think about music festivals, it’s easy to picture giant stages, overcrowded drink lines, and teenagers in various species of headwear. Whateverfest – an all-genre, all-ages DIY festival based in Detroit – is pretty much the opposite of that. Born from a “what if” conversation between friends in 2011, Whateverfest has grown from a few bands occupying every apartment in the Hyesta building to over 40 bands, spanning nearly every genre, playing at the Tangent Gallery. This Saturday, May 12th, the fest is returning for its eighth year and is set to go from 12 pm to 6 am the next day.

The fest’s lineup includes a vast array of Michigan bands as well as acts from Toronto (Rooftop Love Club), Chicago (Aathee Records), and Indianapolis (Gwendolyn Dot). One of the original festival organizers, Soph Sapounas, says that the event’s musical diversity comes from the laissez-faire ethos indicated by its moniker. “Whoever wants to play plays,” says Sapounas. “We’re all just trying to have a good time – it’s whatever. That [word] starts getting thrown around a little too much on the day of but it’s okay.”

Though the organizers strive to be as inclusive as possible, the festival’s popularity attracts a slew of submissions every year, which the team reviews in a democratic fashion. They host listening parties and make sure that the roster of artists performing represents the city as a whole. “We want to be a platform for artists and musicians in Detroit in general. Not just for rock, not just for techno – we want to include all of it,” says Sapounas. “That’s one of the things that keeps recurring, is people telling me that they think it’s really cool to see all the different scenes here and everyone having a good time together and not having that cool kid standoff.”

With groups like Spaceband (a nine-piece experimental funk collective), Ex American (new age electronic), and a handful of techno artists holding down the late-night sessions, the festival undoubtedly reps staple genres Detroit is known for and everything in between. If you’re in or around Detroit, this fest is more than worth checking out. If not, check out some of the amazing under-the-radar artists below – I’m betting they’re more eclectic than your Discover Weekly playlist.

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Highlights from Bonnaroo 2017

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photo by Jorgenson Photography via Bonnaroo Facebook

Four years in the Tennessee heat. Bonnaroo 2017 was my fourth year heading to “The Farm” and despite grumbles over Live Nation buying the fest, Bonnaroo remained true to its core: filthy, socially conscious, and driven by the music.

After flying into Austin, we traveled up to Dallas to pick up the rest of our gang and then made our way to the rolling hills of Tennessee. Every year, we camp with the Reddaroo Groop: like-minded music nerds who know how to use the internet. Our Reddit friends organize elaborate drinking games, a craft beer exchange, and can be found dancing wildly each year to the left-hand side of the main stage.

Four days of non-stop music (the Farm doesn’t shut down at night) may seem intimidating, but Bonnaroo regulars know that it’s all about pacing yourself; it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Naps throughout the day are required if one is planning on dancing back at The Grind in Pod 7 til 6am. Only a novice drinks craft beer all day (coconut water is a must-have). And if you’re not digging the show you’re at? Get up and find another. The lineup this year was dense, with impressive headliners like U2, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Weeknd; the undercards were equally stacked, boasting indie favorites like Cold War Kids and Glass Animals. We had to edit this list several times for length, a sure sign of a successful Roo.

July Talk dished out the sexual tension.

Thursday at Bonnaroo is usually the day to do a quick tour of the grounds, take inventory of the fried food vendors, and make friends with your camping neighbors (when Sunday comes, you may be out of beer, after all). However, our Canadian campmates talked us into trekking out early to see Toronto favorite July Talk. Singer Leah Fay’s borderline saccharine voice battles with guitarist and co-vocalist Peter Dreimanis’s guttural growl; the pair denies any private romance “for personal reasons” but the often physical, “Push + Pull” nature of their onstage interactions make it difficult to think of anything else.

The Strumbellas lifted spirits.

Canada hit it out of the ballpark this year, introducing the Bonnaroo crowd to The Strumbellas on Friday. The band’s 2016 release Hope is full of… well, hope. Despite the Tennessee heat, the audience danced and sang along as though they really needed those lyrics to feel true, the lines “And I don’t want a never ending life / I just want to be alive while I’m here” hitting close to home. The Strumbellas have been vocal about their positive vibes, telling AXS “We get a lot of really awesome messages from people, saying how the lyrics have helped them through hard times, like depression, or anxiety, or PTSD.” With a foot-stomping Americana sound to back it up, it’s no wonder they’re picking up fans south of the border.


In the shade with Michael Kiwanuka

The near-sunset set is always a coveted slot for performers, their audience sitting placid after a day of running around in the heat. After hitting up Tegan And Sara on Saturday, we moved over to the This Tent to watch Michael Kiwanuka perform. Songs like “Black Man In A White World” reflect Kiwanuka’s diverse background, having been raised by Ugandan parents in North London. Kiwanuka doesn’t shy away from the controversial, explaining in a recent interview with The Telegraph that “A lot of people who are way more famous than I am say they don’t feel obligated to speak out on important issues, but I do. One of the cool things about Muhammad Ali or David Bowie is that they always stood for stuff; it wasn’t uncool to believe in something and follow it through.

Dancing is required for Cage The Elephant.

Matt Schultz, the lead singer of Cage The Elephant, danced shirtless on stage, channeling a young Iggy Pop with his spastic, sexual movements. The crowd sang favorites like “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked,” “Cigarette Daydreams,” and “Come A Little Closer” word-for-word, their energy matching Shultz’s. Our group was so taken with their performance it was difficult to leave early for the Chili Peppers; we ended up splitting up (I remained bouncing up and down until my group dragged me away).

The Soul Shakedown makes Bonnaroo unique.

What sets Bonnaroo apart from a festival like Coachella? Many things, but the yearly SuperJam is definitely a gem unique to the fest. Each year, the SuperJam is curated by a specific artist or band. 2017’s SuperJam was presented by the Preservation Jazz Hall Band and featured performances from Chance The Rapper, Margo Price, Tank And The Bangas and more. “Hey Ya,” “Waterfalls,” and A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” were just some of the highlights from the horn-infused set.

Umphrey’s McGee Tears It Up (TWICE).

Shpongle was the reason my brother decided to go to Bonnaroo this year. I myself listened to Shpongle for hours in preparation for their late-night Saturday set. Due to visa issues, they couldn’t make it. Devastation. “After 18-plus years of performing more than 100 concerts annually, releasing nine studio albums and selling more than 4.2 million tracks online, Umphrey’s McGee might be forgiven if they chose to rest on their laurels.” Thus read Bonnaroo’s description of the band that would replace them: Umphrey’s McGee. I was not familiar (neither was my brother). Umphrey’s late night jam set made us forget our Shpongle woes (if only for a few brief hours) as we danced with wild abandon next to Bonnaroo’s hippie tribe.

Margo Price brings outlaw country flair.

On certain Sundays, the Reddaroo crowd doesn’t go into the festival grounds til dusk. This year, however, I had made a date with Margo Price. Price was cool as a cucumber, despite the grueling sun. She sprinkled tales of time spent in jail and her struggles as a musician in a male-dominated industry throughout her set. “Tennessee Song,” “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle),” and “Four Years of Chances” got the crowd on their feet and dancing. My attention was only diverted by a man struggling to dance with his scarf despite dropping it every few minutes.

Bonnaroo 2017 was chock full of outlandish characters, outstanding performances, and motivating messages. As I roamed the festival grounds, I couldn’t help but be moved by sentiments of love and community. “Some people may think [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Martin Luther King Jr.’s] dream is dead, but not at Bonnaroo tonight. Maybe the dream is just telling us to wake up,” Bono said passionately during Friday’s performance. As the Weeknd closed down the festival Sunday night, I looked around at the large crowd, singing at full voice into the darkness, and thought: We’re awake.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

FESTIVAL PREVIEW: Basilica SoundScape 2016


Basilica Hudson is a “non-profit multidisciplinary arts center” in Hudson, NY that supports “the creation, production and presentation of arts and culture while fostering sustainable community.” They’re also throwing a killer music festival September 16-18, called Basilica SoundScape.

Wow, that sounds great! You’re probably thinking. But I have so many questions! Of course. Like, will there be after parties? Yes, at the nearby Half Moon barHow do I get to this Hudson Place? It’s two hours from NYC, by rail or car. Where will I stay? There’s camping nearby! And hotels. What else do they have besides music? Friday and Saturday pop-up shops, including one by Sacred Bones Records. How much does this cost? $75 covers a ticket for the weekend music festivities, $125 for the weekend + camping. Single day passes are also available. But let’s get to the most important question: Who’s playing at this thing?

Angel Olsen – Friday 

Angel Olsen’s new material from her upcoming My Woman is a bright and bold reinvention of this folk singer’s persona. “Shut Up Kiss Me” and “Intern” have shown a wilder and playfully sardonic side of Olsen, making her an act you won’t want to miss.

Bell Witch – Saturday

The Seattle duo is a gloomy, atmospheric doom band that brings a unique approach to metal. Using just drums, bass and, vocals, their sound is eerie and minimalistic. You might not get much head thrashing done during their set; if that’s your scene, just check out Cobalt on Friday.

Mary Lattimore- Friday

At The Dam, the harpist’s May 2016 album, creates its own little world with gentle, twinkling melodies that is delightfully easy to get lost in. If you camp at Basilica SoundScape, hopefully it will be much harder to lose your campsite.

Explosions In The Sky – Saturday

Bringing your dose of moody rock is Explosions In The Sky, scheduled to play on Saturday. Obviously, the nature friendly festival is the best place for them to play their latest album, The Wilderness. SoundScape’s organizers have described its lineup as “heavy,” and Explosions In The Sky is an ideal band to balance things out.

Deradoorian – Saturday

Angel Deradoorian is a former member of Dirty Projectors who has started a psychedelic solo project under her last name. A year ago, her Expanding Flower took us on quite a strange trip; read the review here.



Tis’ the season for the summer festival! Hosted by Detroit’s own Seraphine CollectiveBFF Fest is an inclusive safe space and special slice of summer love created to celebrate the diverse talents of Detroit’s creative community. With an inspired curation of artists and a consciousness aimed to build a more supportive music scene, BFF Fest is a progressive and inviting celebration that strives to make connections between the underrepresented individuals, music and identities. And just as important as the mad posi vibes, the lineup is bursting with the perfect sounds for an eternal Detroit summer! Not in Detroit? No problem! Rally your besties, spark up the barbecue and soak into summer with our BFF Fest playlist!

1. Best Exes: “Blessing” 

The concept of having a best ex is pleasantly perplexing and the threesome Best Exes is a shimmery reflection of a love that lingers past the expiration date.

2. Junk Food Junkies: “Takeout Chinese”

Kitschy, cute and nihilistic lo-fi babes, Junk Food Junkies, write songs about the sweet, the savory and the bullshit of daily life. For a band with songs about pizza bagels, Chinese takeout and Faygo soda there is a depth that speaks volumes of the plight of the millennial, just with more pizza. Lots of pizza.

3. The Freebleeders: “Problematic Faves”

Remember the things you loved as a kid/teenager/adult? Well, they’re probably rooted in misogyny , racism, sexism and other examples of unethical evil and The Freebleeders are here to remind you and struggle with you by sharing their “Problematic Faves.”  Dark, yes. But this brutally thoughtful track is still summer ready with a biting tongue.

4. Bonny Doon: “Summertime Friends”

Moody and sedated, “Summertime Friends” echoes and climbs with a melancholic malaise that is treated with medications of the party variety. Take a midday beach nap on a lovers lap to this track and let the sun burn the space around your stolen sunglasses.

5. Deadbeat Beat: “When the Sun Soaks in”

This retro, surf-punk track is reminiscent of The Kinks with its jutting pop bounciness and droning vocal timbre. Suited for beach ball tossing or post-breakup flirtation, Deadbeat Beat has their pulse on your summer feels.

6. Jes Kramer: “Something”

Grand Rapids (near the pinky of our lovely Michigan Mitten) based singer-songwriter babe Jes Kramer creates deeply personal, emotive tracks that will make summer folks ask you if you’re sweating or crying. Intricately layered with raw lyrical power, Kramer lovingly takes us back to the day where we listened to The Postal Service and day dreamt through closed windows.


NEWS ROUNDUP: Hinds, Making a Murderer, and David Bowie


With the new year we’re going to be bringing you a weekly news round up. Here are our highlights. Dig in.

  • HINDS Takes Over NYC Hinds, the Madrid-based, garage rock band, released Leave Me Alone today, and made a few noteworthy appearances in NYC to celebrate: An in-store session at Manhattan’s Other Music on Tuesday, and a wild, karaoke-style party at Bushwick’s Palisades last night. If you were lucky enough to get in, we’re jealous.

  • Making a Murderer/Making a Mixtape

    If you have a Netflix account- or a maybe nice friend’s password- chances are, you’ve spent the holidays obsessing over the true crime drama Making a Murderer, the story of crooked cops who will stop at nothing to frame a man who is innocent (or is he?!?). Dan Auerbach is right there with you, guys. He enlisted his new band The Arcs to record “Lake Superior,” a song about the story of Steven Avery. It’s a spacey, lo-fi track featuring lyrics that echo the corruption the documentary tackles: “Back on the shore where the poor get whipped/ Where the fat get fat and the rich stay rich.” All proceeds the song earn will go to the Innocent Project, Auerbach says.

  • It’s (Almost) Music Festival Season

    Tickets went on sale for two California festivals, Coachella and BottleRock. Guns N’ Roses are reuniting for Coachella, and other notable headliners include LCD Soundsystem and Sufjan Stevens. But as many sites have pointed out, there is, and always has been a serious lack of female headliners at the famous festival. There’s only ever been two instances where a woman was a headliner, but both of those were Bjork (in 2002 and 2007), so that’s really like one and a half. Also, that poster is practically impossible to read. Back on the east coast, the lineup for the 2016 Governors Ball festival in NYC was just announced as well. 

  • Upcoming Shows

    For readers in NYC who need help planning their social life for next week or so, may we suggest these shows:

    • Rubblebucket at Brooklyn Bowl: Tonight, 8:30 PM
    • NYC’s Hardest Working Bands (featuring Pill, Future Punx, Acid Dad, Gingerlys, Surf Rock is Dead,Dreamcrusher, and Vomitface) at Baby’s All Right: 1/09, 4 PM
    • A Tribute to Lou Reed (featuring Sinkane, Mirah, Invisible Familiars, Your 33 Black Angels, Pencil, Cassandra Jenkins, Jolie Holland, and Sam Owens) at Manhattan Inn: 1/10, 8:30 PM
    • Metz/Bully/Palm at Bowery Ballroom: 1/13, 8 PM
  • Happy Birthday, David Bowie and Elvis!

    “The King of Rock’n’Roll” would have been 80-years old-today. David Bowie also turned 69 today and finally released Backstar. We’re calling today David Bowie Day. Stay tuned for AudioFemme’s take on his much anticipated 26th studio album. 

FESTIVAL PREVIEW: Elements Music & Art Festival 8/22


This Saturday BangOn!NYC is holding their mysterious music and arts festival Elements. Along an industrial waterfront in Brooklyn, the vibe should be somewhere between Berlin’s Boiler Room and the bug-infested desert of Burning Man. A few subway lines away from wherever you reside, the one-day event promises to be a slice of music and escapism without plagues or planes.

Elements will have four stages- Earth/Wind/Water/Fire, along with large-scale art installations, delicious food trucks, humans, fairies, hopefully giraffes, all sorts of magical creatures spinning around from the sky to add to the intensity of your experience. Dig the full line-up above. Or better yet, don’t even read it, just show up Saturday dressed as whatever your inner child wants and dance like summer never ends.

FESTIVAL PREVIEW: Seattle’s Capitol Hill Block Party – The Femme’s Picks


Capitol Hill Block Party is Seattle’s beloved street party meets music festival. Usually convening at the end of July, this is the block party’s third year running. Taking up over six city blocks, it showcases more than 100 artists. The neighborhood of Capitol Hill, traditionally known for its colorful artist and music fueled culture, will be entirely occupied with parties, DJ sets, and many other events aside from the Block Party itself. It isn’t so often that new local bands have the opportunity to play alongside world renowned acts such as TV On The Radio, The Kills, Father John Misty, RATATAT, Toro y Moi, etc. Below are a few local bands playing that you definitely shouldn’t miss because you’re waiting in line for a festival beer. 


Sunday 4:45PM @ Cha Cha

So Pitted

Sunday 2:15PM @ Neumos


Friday 11:15PM @ Neumos

Bread & Butter

Sunday 8PM @ Neumos


Friday 6:45PM @ Cha Cha

Bad Future

Friday 5:45PM @ Cha Cha

Tickets are still available for this weekend’s festivities here.

PLAYLIST: The Top Acts To Catch At Northside Festival


Hey Brooklyn! What are you doing next weekend? Really, the only acceptable answer is seeing at least one of these bands at Northside Festival, which runs from June 11-14 and hosts shows in venues from Acheron  to Warsaw. The schedule is packed with amazing artists, and to help you choose which shows to see, we made you a list of our favorites. You’re welcome.

1. Diet Cig  (6/11 at Alphaville)

This duo from New Paltz plays catchy, light-hearted pop that will have you copying the dancing in this video:

2. Beverly (6/11 at Alphaville)

This band comes with a warning: their lush, relaxing harmonies are addictive.

3. Luna (6/11 at McCarren Park)

Luna is the indie band formed by former Galaxie 500 member Dean Wareham, featuring guitar-centric, dreamy rock.

4. Drenge (6/12 at Knitting Factory)

Their name is a little challenging to pronounce, but these brothers from the UK have an amazing sound: heavy, grungy rock.

5. Leapling (6/12 at Palisades)

Just one in a long list of amazing local bands is Leapling, an experimental pop group responsible for gems like “Crooked.”

6. Vomitface (6/12 at Pet Rescue)

This sludge-pop band sounds way better than their name. If you’ve got some head-banging to get out of your system, go see them at Pet Rescue.

7. Frankie Cosmos (6/12 at Rough Trade)

Greta Kline formerly performed under the name Ingrid Superstar before settling on Frankie Cosmos. The daughter of actors Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates lists James Taylor, Hall and Oates, Liz Phair, Indigo Girls and the Moldy Peaches as early influences.

8. Mitski (6/12 at Saint Vitus)

Mitski is a stunning singer-songwriter from Brooklyn, via practically everywhere else. Go see her at Saint Vitus, where we’re hoping she’ll preview some songs from her upcoming album.

9. Von Sell (6/12 at Union Pool)

Von Sell is a relatively new electro-pop artist from Berlin who is already getting praise from indie blogs. Watch him play at Union Pool and see what all the fuss is about.

10. ONWE (6/12 at Union Pool)

ONWE’s light, catchy melodies hide something darker- just check out his song “Unpaid Internship,” his scathing opinion on “trust-fund kids.”


11. Shilpa Ray (6/14 at Rough Trade)

She plays the harmonium, and she’s one of Nick Cave’s favorite musicians: Shilpa Ray is bringing her uniquely gloomy rock ‘n’ roll to Rough Trade.

12. This entire lineup (6/13 at 50 Kent Avenue)

Celebrate the start of summer with an outdoor concert, and see four great bands in one place: Bully, Alvvays, Built to Spill and Best Coast.

BURGERAMA 4: The Femme’s List of Who to See


For those of you not too familiar with the DIY whirlwind that is Burger Records, it is a Fullerton, California-based independent record label founded back in 2007 by Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard. Burger is most well known for taking the off kilter route of releasing most of their material on cassette. This year marks their fourth year hosting the Burgerama music festival, which this year seemingly has their most impressive lineup yet. Held at the Santa Ana Observatory, it is quickly approaching on the weekend of March 28th and 29th. Other than the duh-worthy ripping main acts, here’s a list of bands us West Coast femmes are stoked to see.



For a band that was supposedly formed as a joke, their record certainly doesn’t sound like one. Froth emulates a well done version of the garage, surf, psych, and drone-sounding rock that is consuming the Southern California music scene right now. They definitely throw a little twist in their sound, though, with the use of an omnichord. Here’s a new track Burger uploaded on their Soundcloud a month ago titled, “Postcard Radio.”


Mr. Elevator & The Brain Hotel

These Los Angeles-based, wacky psychedelic dudes, sound exactly like what you’d think a band playing a similar festival set in the Sixties would sound like. We are so okay with that. Here’s them performing, “When the Morning Greets You With A Smile” for the video series Jam In The Van from last year’s Burgerama.


The Coathangers

The always badass Atlanta-based trio, The Coathangers, are a longtime AudioFemme favorite (they headlined one of our showcases last year). Yes we’re biased, but with good reason. From their 2009 full length, Scramble, to their recently released cover of The Gun Club’s “Sex Beat,” their set is bound to be seamlessly chock full of dance-y punk hits.


White Fence

Tim Presley is the blast-from-the-past prolific psych band that is White Fence. With almost all of his past releases recorded in his home, Presley helps to emulate what Burger Records seemingly stands for. Here’s a stream of his most recent album titled, For The Recently Found Innocent. Smoke a bowl and enjoy.



Fronted by Chad Ubovich, guitarist of Mikal Cronin as well as the bassist for Fuzz, Meatbodies is a guitar heavy Jay Reatard lovers dream band. With their first album just released in October, this band’s buzz is about to explode. Highly suggested set to see for all of your head banging pleasures. Here’s a live video of them performing “Mountain” on KEXP Radio.



Jeff The Brotherhood

The always killer Jeff The Brotherhood, who recently announced being dropped by Warner Brothers Records, are releasing their new album (coming out just a few days before the festival) on Infinity Cat Recordings. With all of the excitement of a new start for the band as well as a new album, their set that weekend will not be one to miss. Here’s their new track featuring Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull on flute titled “Black Cherry Pie.”


La Luz

La Luz is a Seattle-based surf rock band. These girls’ mellow beach vibe is danceable and to blatantly put it, fun. La Luz, which translates to “light” in Spanish, perfectly emulates their vibe during live performances. This is their beautifully hazy video for their most popular track, titled”Call Me in the Day.”