The first time I heard “Blood In The Cut” was at a festival last summer. K Flay ended her set with a brand new song-a bold move for any live show. It was completely different than anything else she played that day, leaning much more toward the rock end of the spectrum, but somehow it fit.
Ever since hearing that song I’ve been waiting on the edge of my seat for this new album to show up. It was preceded by another single, “Black Wave,” which only raised the level of excitement in my mind. Every Where Is Some Where feels like the music finally catching up to what she’s been trying to do since she was mixing it up on her own when I saw her open for Passion Pit in 2010.
It’s interesting to hear trap beats mix with driving guitars, synths and drums that would feel perfectly at home on a Nine Inch Nails record. The sound brings an added level of depth to the desperation that permeates the album. Much of it is spent searching for something to fill the void of a lost love.
On “Champagne” she sings “I feel it, I want it, I need it, I love it, I’m looking for something to make me feel nothing.” Sometimes numb is all you can feel because it’s better than dealing with the hurt and anger inside-it’s not healthy, but we all do it. The fast-paced delivery of the lyrics on this track are a manic expression of all those feelings trapped in our heads.
The album gets more upbeat in short intervals, with songs like “The President Has A Sex Tape” (timely) and the ode to familial love “Mean It.” These little bursts of distraction from the demons in your head are what propel you toward recovery. In this context, they move the album from being a little too one-note.
Every Where Is Some Where is easily one of the best things I’ve heard this year. You can listen to it on Spotify or Apple Music, but you’re best bet is to just buy it here.
Mamby On The Beach is a bit odd compared to other music festivals. Unlike React’s Spring Awakening, Mamby isn’t purely an electronic music fest, though the crossover of fans seems pretty high. This year’s lineup brings out a decent amount of rap and electronic artists, but many of them blend the two together. And then you have bands like Animal Collective and Wild Belle that don’t quite fit into those categories at all. For those wiling to give it a chance, there’s a lot of fun to find.
My day started off at the Park Stage with Lany. The crowd was still slowly making their way over, but those that got there early were treated to a dancey set enjoyed by all who saw it.
Next up was K Flay, and the Wilmette native crushed a 45-minute set that included songs from her most recent album Life As A Dog as well as tracks from her previous works. The set ended with a rocking contrast to the beat-heavy songs that came before. She said they wanted to try something different and it certainly was. I’d actually like to see a whole set where K Flay and her band just go all out and get loud.
Kaytranada played right after and the crowd was getting much bigger and ready to dance. Luckily the 23 year old producer has a hit album out right now and gave the crowd what they wanted. The set sampled heavily from classic funk and soul, featuring everything from Parliament Funkadelic to Pusha T. I think 99.9% is a really good album, but at a certain point in the live show it all started to sound the same so it was time to get food.
Stopped at Puffs Of Doom for a salted caramel and chocolate creme puff. It was fantastic. I see why Rolling Stone named it one of the best things at Lollapalooza last year. Also had a spicy chicken sandwich from Leghorn which wasn’t great, but the seasoned fries were very tasty.
The Beach Stage was an entirely different experience from the Park Stage. The weather was gorgeous all day, but the beach was dusty and it looked like a sandstorm at times. My hair was stiff from all the grit getting stuck in it, but it didn’t really effect the fun.
Wild Belle played a set that was sweet, but didn’t keep everyone’s attention at all times. They ran through songs like “Dreamland” without much fanfare. It wasn’t until they closed the set with a new song about violence (especially in Chicago) that the audience seemed to really respond.
The last thing I saw was Atmosphere, and they were great. Slug was pumping the crowd full of positivity while still staying in control. He joked with the crowd about knowing he was closer to his home in Minneapolis because people at his shows keep getting uglier. The songs they opened with were politically charged bangers, name-checking Trayvon Martin and the Black Lives Matter movement. It chilled out later, with Slug getting everyone in the crowd to throw two middle fingers up in the air.
Didn’t stay for Milky Chance or Animal Collective due to lack of interest. I’ll be staying all night tomorrow to see Santigold headline the Park Stage. Also Gallant and Lupe Fiasco. It should be another beautiful day, so come on out!
No photo pass this time around, so these are just shots from the Leica X1 and iPhone.
For fair-skinned fans of air conditioned spaces, hitting the beach on a hot summer day may not seem like the greatest of times to be had. Fortunately, a few times a year music festivals give us a reason to sweat in the sun while we dance and enjoy the sweltering sunshine. This Fourth Of July weekend Mamby On The Beach provides Chicago with one such event, featuring music that crosses genre lines all over the place. These are some of the acts that you should be sure to check out. Headliners are a given, so those will not be discussed here.
- Miami Horror (Saturday July 2, 3:30 on Beach Stage)-They’ve been around since 2007, but I didn’t take notice until last year’s All Possible Futures. The song “American Dream,” in particular, got me into them. It should be a nice laid-back set to get you into the swing of things before Wild Belle and Milky Chance take over the main stage.
- Overlapping Miami Horror a bit is K Flay on the Park Stage from 3:15-4. The Wilmette native may have left the midwest for the California sun, but she still represents her Chicagoland roots. She’s been gaining momentum over the past couple years, most recently with her album Life As A Dog and video for the single “FML.” A while back she went from performing solo to adding a live drummer and bassist, which makes the show much more interesting.
- Immediately after K Flay on the Park Stage is Haitian producer Kaytranada. His newest record 99.9% has been one of the great discoveries of the year. It features artists like Anderson.Paak, Vic Mensa, and Craig David. It’s as atmospheric as anything you’ll hear this year and has already been featured on a lot of mid-year “best of” lists.
- Many have called Gallant the next Frank Ocean (except Gallant puts out music), which is a lot to live up to. He seems to be handling the hype, and you can see him for yourself on July 3rd at 4:45. Just head to be Beach Stage and be sure to bring your guy or gal because Gallant is singing for all the lovers out there.
- A little before Gallant is playing, you should check out Chrome Sparks on the Park Stage. They play really early (2:30), but that doesn’t mean they won’t be great. The trippy tunes definitely lend themselves to an evening state of mind, so wear your sunglasses and pretend it’s almost closing time.
Tickets for Mamby On The Beach are still available for both General Admission and VIP. Follow this link to purchase.
I spent the Memorial Day Weekend in California. Bookended by two great Golden State Warriors games, the majority of the time I was in Napa at a music festival called Bottlerock. Saw a lot of great bands and took a bunch of pictures, so this series of posts will be those photos, set-by-set. Please enjoy and be sure to check out the rest of the coverage.
I was delighted last night when I walked in to House Of Blues and saw a packed house for Chicago native K. Flay. She’s been headlining smaller venues across the country, occasionally playing before larger crowds in opening slots for acts like Icona Pop or Passion Pit. Now she’s getting some due of her own, and it is very well-deserved. WKQX brought her back to town for own of their Queued Up Artist Showcases, and they did a great job of getting the word out and building a strong lineup to make it a fun evening overall.
Flay took the stage around 9:20, with her drummer Nicholas Suhr arriving first and laying down a smooth beat to get the show going. The energy in the crowd was palpable. I was surprised to hear so many people singing along to all the words off Flay’s self-distributed record Life As A Dog. The front half of the house was a sea of people bouncing in unison as rhymes were spit and a chorus of voices could be heard on the hooks.
This was a big change from the first time I saw K. Flay at the University Of Northern Illinois. Her talent was evident, but she mainly kept her head buried in her laptop. Now she’s running around the stage, feeding off the crowd and turning their excitement into a frenzied rock and roll stage presence you don’t see in many pop/hip-hop artists.
Highlights of the night included a sing-a-long on “Thicker Than Dust” and a long pull off a bottle of Maker’s Mark during “Wishing It Was You” that would’ve knocked me out cold. I call those highlights, but really it was a fun show from start to finish. Flay was good on her own, but the addition of live drumming from Suhr takes the show to the next level.
You can pick up a copy of Life As A Dog on iTunes. I would also suggest going back and finding her old mix tapes like MASHed Potatoes or I Stopped Caring In ’96. No more shows are scheduled in the US at this time, but check out her site for updates.
For more photos from K. Flay’s set, check out our Facebook page.
Watching the ascent of K Flay has been pretty gratifying. I first spotted the rapper/producer in an opening slot for Passion Pit a few years ago. Sadly, while I’ve been happy to watch her career grow, I hadn’t seen her live again until today.
It was a quick six song set in the afternoon at JBTV Studios featuring tracks from her new record Life As A Dog. The album is her best yet, and seeing her perform today I could tell there’s been a lot of growth and gained confidence.
I really liked the sound with a live drummer. Last time I saw her she stood behind a laptop. Having the drummer allows her to be more involved in the performing aspect and connect with the audience. The drummer, Nicholas Suhr, is also pretty sick on the sticks.
Pick up a copy of Life As A Dog here.
Every release in K. Flay‘s career has been a step up from the one previous. Last year’s What If It Is turned up the heat with some sizzling production and tighter beats. On her new record, the crowdfunded Life As A Dog, she pushes the envelope even futher, marrying that heightened production with her best songwriting to date. These songs are more complex and adult than anything she’s released so far, and a good sign that the potential shown over the past few years might be just the tip of the iceberg.
A lot of similar themes are covered through all of Flay’s records, and this one hits most of those. The difference here is how those themes are dealt with. Rather than just turning the tempo up to a million and celebrating a lifestyle of staying out all night getting drunk with friends, there’s a hint of bittersweet knowledge that a lifestyle like that can’t last forever. It also features a more romantic side of Flay than what we’ve heard on the past two EP’s.
On “Wishing It Was You” she talks at length about a deep crush on a friend that doesn’t return the feeling. It does a great job of capturing the emotional rollercoaster that situation can cause, as well as the dread that comes along with knowing it will never happen. She even describes her fantasy a bit in the last verse: “I’ve got room in my apartment, I thought that you should know. If you take out the garbage, I’ll pay for the phone. I don’t need a wedding, let’s stay home instead. We could both confess things we’ve never even said.” Read more…