Just as the NFL Draft, with all the pomp and circumstance that surround it, is considered by some to be America’s fourth major professional sport, the first few months of every year, during which time details about the annual Festival Season’s numerous events are unveiled in quick succession, is a noteworthy and exciting music-centric stretch in its own right. Rumors abound, travel plans are made, and sometimes vitriolic meditations on the Current And Future State Of Music™ are hard to avoid. But sardined among reliably controversial announcements from Hangout Music Festival, Jazz Fest, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo and Coachella is the one press release that is almost guaranteed to bring nothing but good news for local fans of excellent alternative rock, punk, grunge and ska music: Community Records has released the lineup for their 5th Annual Block Party, and once again they are offering a full-day’s-worth of the best and brightest offerings from DIY scenes all over the country.
Matching last year’s epic headliners the Rx Bandits is an equally – if not more – revelatory announcement that Mustard Plug will be gracing the main stage of Block Party. One of the hardest working bands of the 90s punk ska era, this group of Michigan stalwarts was one of the most pervasive influences on New Orleans’ own ska scene at the time, a legacy that Community Records itself is arguably a manifestation of. Joined by westcoast street ska veterans Left Alone, the Plug will headline a list of touring acts that includes hodgepodge Florida punks Safety, Illinois punk pop band Good Luck, Nashville ska thrashers Stuck Lucky and California’s much-adored A Billion Ernies.
These touring bands will appear along side a lineup of natives that cuts across almost every musical crowd currently rattling cages at the local level. Lords of Block Party Caddywhompus properly get top billing, but the set ranges from modern-punk surgeons The Lollies and The Riffs to the freakishly talented member-sharing melange of Glish, Choi Wolf and Habitat, while an after party at Circle Bar adds Houston’s bluesy art-rockers The Tontons to the jam packed weekend.
The 2012 Community Records Block Party will take place for 12 hours from Noon to Midnight on Saturday, April 21 at The Big Top. The current bill features 24 bands on two stages, with more acts as wells as details about a string of pre- and post- shows still to be announced. Tickets are available online or at the event, and you can save $4 by purchasing in advance or bringing a food or clothing donation to the gate. All donations will go to the New Orleans Mission and a portion of all ticket sales will benefit the Gulf Restoration Network.
Block Party 2012 / Community Records Block Party 2012 on Facebook
Without a doubt, the Hangout Music Fest was the suprise success of 2011. For only it’s second year in existence, concertgoers from all over the country swarmed the Alabama coast town of Gulf Shores – essentially a first for the entire gulf coast region. In retrospect, though, the refreshing swell of alternative vacationers couldn’t have been much of a surprise: even if they hadn’t been treated to as peerless a lineup as entire festival circuit that year offered (which they certainly were), no one should be able to resist the thrill of experiencing any live concert set to a backdrop of soft white sand underneath a Spring southern sun.
This year’s bill of bands, made public today, appears to balance the rock and psychedelic ambiance of last year with a decidedly jammier inclination. Those ecstatic about the 2011 weirdness of Primus and Ween might be surprised to find the likes of Dispatch, G. Love and the String Cheese Incident in their place; nevertheless, among a sea of headline-worthy acts, you’ll find Jack White, hot on the heels of his just-announced debut solo record, as well as heavy-hitters Wilco and the Dave Matthews Band. High-profile returners from last year include the Flaming Lips (performing Dark Side of the Moon, something they merely teased with last year), Sound Tribe Sector 9 and Michael Franti & Spearhead.
Elsewhere, the festival packs a good punch of young rock bands like Dr. Dog, Futurebirds and the heatseeking Alabama Shakes while filling the nostalgia gap left by Paul Simon with acts like Steve Winwood, Randy Newman and Mavis Staples (who hopefully finds a way to join Wilco at some point in the weekend). With a slighter focus on hip hop with acts like Mac Miller, the Alabama-born Yelawolf and New Orleans’ own Big Freedia, the roster of electronic acts – the easy highlight of last year’s fest in the opinion of many – is noticeably thin this year. Nonetheless, brostep behemoth Skrillex will be leading a pack that includes young electronic duo Zeds Dead as well as veterans Paul Oakenfold and Shpongle.
Hangout Music Fest 2012 Lineup
In only three short years, the annual Hogs For The Cause has grown from a leisurely afternoon pig-roast-cum-charity event to not just a fundraising powerhouse and massive BBQ Competition, but also a noteworthy addition to Festival Season: Local Edition. What started as the quaint brain-child of local dining impresarios Rene Louarpe and Becker Hall – minds responsible for, among many other New Orleans culinary achievements, quintessential foodie blog Blackened Out as well as short-lived but immensely loved pop-up burger experiment MVB – has expanded its scope and footprint every year, but the 2011 edition truly brought Hogs For The Cause into a new class of happening. The event relocated from its modest digs at The Fly to a huge swath of City Park, and 7,000 people showed up for a monster pork-off set to a live soundtrack that included Anders Osborne, The Honey Island Swamp Band, and a stop from the extended-farewell-touring Radiators.
This year’s Hogs For The Cause will move on up once again, as it takes over the Frisbee Golf Fields and brings another full day of music, anchored this time by hometown hero (and now international sensation) Trombone Shorty and his Orleans Avenue. He will cap off a lineup that includes local roots trio Mississippi Rail Co., Grammy-nominated blueswoman Marcia Ball, Austin’s long-running kings of funky-tonk The Gourds, The Stooges Brass Band and the Tab Benoit-led southeastern-Louisiana supergroup Voice Of The Wetlands All-Stars. 60 teams of amateurs and professionals will be offering their best pork creations as organizers attempt to break the $100,000 fundraising mark set last year.
The 2012 Hogs For The Cause Cookoff will take place at City Park on March 24, 2012. Gates open at 10:30AM and the show starts at 11:00AM. General admission tickets and a variety of delicious-sounding VIP packages are available online now.
Hogs For The Cause
2011 in New Orleans was a great year not just for music fans but for music venues of every size and stripe. Small room additions like the Howlin’ Wolf Den managed to give a much-needed platform for upstart local and under-the-radar touring bands in the Warehouse District while fledgling Bywater venue Siberia experienced a massive daily swell of patronage from NOLA’s underground crowds that bled over into the nearby Hi-Ho and AllWays Lounges, reestablishing St. Claude Avenue as something of an artistic melting pot. Even larger venues like One Eyed Jacks and Republic saw the kinds of eye-popping band bills and audience numbers that arguably lifted them up to the same echelon as the well-established Tipitina’s.
Yet if you ask any genuine lover of the concertgoing lifestyle, he or she will not hesitate to qualify 2011’s successes and high points by mentioning that the Circle Bar was gone the entire time. Having closed right at the turn of the new year for renovations that were only supposed to take approximately six to eight weeks, delays and brain drain quickly pushed Circle Bar’s reopening date into indefinite “TBA” territory, at which time “Open the Circle Bar” became something of a tongue-in-cheek rallying cry for the local underground.
However, much to the relief of a music community that knows all too well how quickly a little treasure like Circle Bar can fall into oblivion, after an entire year and a few high-profile false starts the venue – prized for its willingness to book literally any band of any caliber from any genre – is seriously, finally, thankfully opening it’s doors again on Friday, January 20 with performances by Micah McKee’s Little Maker project, the venerable Rik Slave & the Phantoms, Clockwork Elvis and O.L.D. The revelry continues on Saturday with Guitar Lightnin’ and Steve Eck & the Midnight Still. Expect some long-overdue revamps of the bar’s stage set up, now larger and unhindered by what used to be the bathroom hallway wall, and a slightly relocated bar area – changes that will only serve to enhance the Circle Bar’s ability to accommodate both bands and patrons.
MP3: Little Maker: “Hiawatha”
Disappears front man Brian Case is either the beneficiary of a never-ending treasure trove of material waiting to be put on wax at his convenience or a master of surrounding himself with a supporting cast that makes it look easy to release something of substance every year since 2008 (or both). After last year’s early entry Guider, the swansong for then-drummer and in-house producer Graeme Gibson, it would have been presumable – even understandable – for the remaining members of Disappears to take an extended step back while adjusting the course on their freight train of creative output.
However, refusing to live up to the implications of its own name, this Chicago-based shoegaze krautrock n’ roll band did the exact opposite, immediately finding a replacement in legendary Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and teaming up with producer John Congleton at Sonic Youth’s Echo Canyon West studio. The results are another very quick gestational release period for Disappears and the heavier, more dimensionally nuanced Pre Language, due out March 1 on Kranky Records.
Introductory cut “Replicate” finds the band decelerating slightly from the breakneck pace of Guider and shying away from their usual ease of melodic accessibility, instead sharpening their penchant for rhythmic hypnotism and fleshing out a deeply distorted mise en scène capable of shaking an entire house.
MP3: Disappears: “Replicate”
2011 was an impressive year for local electronic-leaning entertainment house Winter Circle Productions. In addition to growing their monthly BASSIK showcase – which hosts up-and-coming dubstep DJs from all over the world – into one of the hottest recurring tickets in New Orleans, WCP was behind some of the biggest and most exciting concerts of the year, bringing Pretty Lights, Lykke Li, Cut Copy and many other electro and not-necessarily electro acts to town in the last 12 months.
And they are wasting no time making a splash in 2012, announcing the lineup for their recently unveiled Buku Music and Art Project, the newest addition to what is becoming an increasingly diverse ecosystem of weekend music festivals setting up shop on the Gulf Coast. The two day event will take place March 17 and 18 in and around Mardi Gras World with a roster that reads like a who’s who of electronica and underground hip-hop. Not dead, Grammy-nominated dubstep wunderkind Skrillex takes top billing, with the likes of SBTRKT, Yelawolf, Big Gigantic, Holy Fuck, Wiz Khalifa, Diplo, and Mississippi phenom Big K.R.I.T. rounding out the huge lineup.
If those dates sound familiar, it’s because Buku will invade the New Orleans Riverfront just as the music portion of South by Southwest reaches it’s climax in Austin, TX. In what may appear to be a curious scheduling choice until you realize the annual SXSW Conference has run almost completely unopposed for decades, Buku is already shaping up to be the perfect counter-programming for those disinclined to head west; and with such a stacked bill it’s sure to catch the attention of some of the beatnuts headed east for Miami’s Winter Music Conference the following week.
Early bird packages sold out almost instantly, but VIP passes and plenty of discounted presale tickets are still available.
BUKU Music & Are Project on Facebook
MP3: Big K.R.I.T.: “Moon And Stars (Clams Casino Remix)”
It’s getting increasingly difficult to think of G-Eazy as a purely, or even relatively, local musical entity. With an unobtrusive omnipresence both on and off the stage that’s manifested itself in New Orleans as a devoted and semi-hysterical following, it can be hard to accept (though not that hard to imagine) that the same slick-parted statue of a figure who you’ve seen rip a room to shreds with a near-perfect lyrical balance of heady annunciation and a borderline mumblecore delivery is also doing the same phenomenal work in his hometown of Oakland to arguably just as much fanfare; and that with “Runaround Sue” at nearly 350,000 views on Youtube, he’s obviously had no problem drumming up similar fan base bustle in every city between here and there. Having just finished a nationwide tour both supporting and upstaging Schwayze, G-Eazy is probably now thinking international.
Enter new single “Lost In Translation”, the latest in Eazy’s long line of seemingly impossible sampling achievements. With a melodic fun house foundation courtesy of Electronic Takeover mainstays Swiss Chriss and Christoph Andersson’s take on that bizarre as shit “Pon Pon Pon” song, he wishfully hypothesizes a story of sex, drugs and love overseas – like the Sophia Coppola film of the same name, but 99 minutes shorter and with a sliver of wit. Though not technically true to life, “Lost in Translation” tells a narrative either vaguely familiar regardless of geographic location or precisely foretelling of what’s to come. All of the sudden when G-Eazy quips, “I wanna go to Tokyo so fucking bad”, you’re not as amused as you are stuck wondering, “Seriously, when is G-Eazy going to hit Japan?”
“Lost In Translation” at G-Eazy.com