This is one of those weeks when the Bay Area becomes the incidental benefactor of a nearby regional music festival. The FYF Fest is attracting some of the world’s hottest young musical acts to the West Coast this Labor Day Weekend, down in Los Angeles. Before (and after) they play their SoCal gigs, they'll need a city and a crowd to stay sharp. That's where we come in.
Aughts emo kids (present company included) rejoice! Conor Oberst’s ridiculously catchy heart-on-and-around-the-sleeve project is re-u-effing-niting. Angstier fans of Bright Eyes will be particularly emotional when processing the news. This band rocked in the pop-punkiest way, way way back in the 2002 day. When Vagrant Records bands were pouring their heart out, Oberst’s Desaparecidos was weighing in on sociopolitical ish that mattered, and also pouring their heart out. Their righteous ethos has surprisingly held up over time, despite the absence of stewardship. Give Read Music/Speak Spanish a listen and it will be clear Oberst’s eff-off brand of poetry is of the timeless sort.
Speaking of emo and nostalgia, have you ever heard of or cried to the sounds of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart? These Brooklyn twee-as-balls indie pop-rockers are carrying the torch for the card-carrying lover-punks of the post-irony, post-sucking movement. The band has been milking kudos from the critical areas of the indie rockin’ universe, and the implied cred from their label, Oakland’s Slumberland Records, certainly doesn’t hurt.
Oakland in the MOTHER-EFFING HOUSE. One of our best aughts-era exports, the punctuation-loving, wordplay-insisting act Why? is still fighting the good fight. Bandleader/Anticon co-founder Yoni Wolf makes the thing tick with an incredible and incredibly thoughtful artistic drive. Dude’s got mind-numbing and mind-bending lyrics, and his pop-indie-weirdcore instrumental backing makes the experience comprehensively engaging. The moniker Why? seems a fitting description; Wolf asks all the right questions via a lyrical style that never lacks for clarity or inquisitiveness. Check it:
Ruth Radelet’s voice soothes and haunts at once. Sounds impossible, but it’s a real thing that happens. While producer/multi-instrumentalist Johnny Jewel’s electro textures tell of an eerie place and time, Radelet tampers with a listener’s mood. Their latest album, Kill for Love, seizes the dark parts of the heart and mind. Put it on your radar.
Come for the catchy synth pop, stay for the mesmerizing visuals. That’s the rallying cry for Yeasayer’s latest tour, which features Casey Reas’ “alienscape, crystalline” stage design. Reas is part of the art collective/machine known as the Creator’s Project, which has a growing connection with the indie rock world. Oddball pop bands like Yeasayer have a particular affinity for Creators Project, which put on mini festival at Fort Mason earlier this year with the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, James Murphy, Zola Jesus and more. Click here for an idea of what Reas’ work can do.