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Listen to This!

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I’ve told myself for some time now that once I finished up my PhD work, I could focus more on posting on this site. The amount of music I sift through on a weekly basis whether it be from live shows, press releases, in preparation of my weekly calendar, or just word of mouth suggestions is…well it can be a lot.  I thought, to get back into the swing of things, I’d bring back my List to This column and share some of the sights and sounds that have grabbed my attention.

So here we go!

Foy Vance The Wild Swan

I’ve finally got around to absorbing this album that came out last May. It’s amazing how Foy’s songs can at once feel so effortless and emotionally resonant.  Here’s one of my favorites from the album:


MONA – “In the Middle”

Love this band! So happy to see them back at it with a new EP (In the Middle) that came out towards the end of last year. They are hitting the road with July Talk and will be at Soda Bar in San Diego on January 28th and at Bootleg Theater in LA on the 31st.  Catch them if you can!


Warbly Jets

The “Jets” are doing a residency at The Satellite this month. Their second night happened to be my first show of the year (shocking, I know).  If I look past the theatrics (lights! smoke! dramatic curtain drop!), I feel like there is a compelling musical force that is sure to get attention from music aficionados everywhere.


Wildwood Kin – “Warrior Daughter”

More SXSW artists were announced this week, so I have lots of listening to do, but I’ve got 400+ already down and this UK act is one of my favorites so far.


~ Kristen

Kristen’s 2015 Music Mix – Track 5 – Highly Suspect

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2015 was not the best of years, but it certainly had its moments…most of the good ones involved music. Here are a few of the songs that had an impact on my year.


I was going to say that Highly Suspect’s Mister Asylum was the most underrated album of the year…until it was nominated for a Grammy!?!? I was gobsmacked in the best way imaginable as it is certainly my favorite rock release in 2015. Full of dramatic, heart-pounding rockers, more than a time or two I’ve pressed play on the album and turned the volume waaaaaay up, drowning out my racing thoughts and punching my fists in the air.


~ Kristen


Kristen’s 2015 Music Mix – Track 2 – Walking On Cars

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2015 was not the best of years, but it certainly had its moments…most of the good ones involved music. Here are a few of the songs that had an impact on my year.


Walking on Cars were my band of SXSW 2015 and stuck with me for the rest of the year. They became one of my High Voltage features and one of my more successful recommendations. “Hand in Hand” was a song I used to lure one of my most passionate music friends into the Walking On Cars fold. I can’t wait for this band’s debut album to come out next year.

~ Kristen


Max and the Moon

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matm promo

Max and the Moon from Chino Hills, Ca. are kicking off their first headlining tour in San Diego, gearing up for an EP release and are looking to take the world by storm. They play tomorrow at the House of Blues Voodoo Room and it’s definitely something you should check out. If you still need convincing, check out my chat with them and listen to their single Harps.


1. Tell us a little about who you are as a band.

– Max and the Moon is a band that loves looking forward to new things that will shape its career. We all take the opportunities we get as a band very seriously and always give it everything we got. But we also like to have fun and be creative while doing so. We’re always wanting to achieve more later down the road because we don’t like staying in one place and not growing continuously as writers and musicians. We like to think our new songs, Modern Love and Harps are a testament to that because we’ve developed our sound every chance we’ve gotten. So we’re excited for the future!

2. What can people expect from the live show?

– Well, we haven’t had a chance to play live since November of last year! So we are very excited to get back on stage, doing what we love to do. I think people can expect to see a lot of energy and connection with our fans. Also, we’re stoked to share our new songs live and see what everyone thinks of them.

3. What do you like about playing in San Diego?

– It’s always nice to be in front of such a welcoming group of people and every time we’ve played down here we’ve received awesome feedback from the fans. San Diego audiences are engaged and very respectful of the artist. That type of dedication to live entertainment pushes us to give everything we got. The town itself is beautiful and comforting. We think the people exude these same qualities.

4. Tell us about your upcoming EP MATM.

– We’ve worked very hard on the songs that are on the upcoming EP. We pulled ideas from the sounds that were on our The Way I See EP, a little bit of vocal influence from our writing with the Crazy EP, and also there is a lot of fresh grooves and moods the new songs give off. We tend to be most proud of anything new we’ve created and we can all personally say we care deeply about these brand new tunes.

Amanda’s SD Concert Calendar 4/13-4/19

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Although I have zero plans to attend Coachella, either online or in person, I’ve been really enjoying the posts from some friends who are out there experiencing the fun. I haven’t been to Coachella in a few years and part of me misses it, but the rest of me is happy to be home instead. In fact, today I went to a trampoline park for some cardio work. Sure I got sweaty, but it’s nothing to the sweat that Coachella brings. However, there will be massive sweating this week because The Silent Comedy is finally playing a hometown show and you know that’s going to be a sweaty dance party of awesome! Also, Saint Motel will be hanging down here between Coachella weekends and they are another dance party waiting to happen.We have some good stuff this week. Go out, see music.

Monday: St. Lucia @ Observatory North Park at 8pm

Tuesday: Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo @ Balboa Theatre at 7:30pm
AND: Father John Misty @ Observatory North Park at 8pm- SOLD OUT
AND: George Ezra @ Belly Up at 8pm- SOLD OUT

Wednesday: Lights, Saint Motel @ The Irenic at 7pm- SOLD OUT
AND: Jamestown Revival @ Belly Up at 8pm

Thursday: Jackson Price Band @ Sycamore Den at 9pm
AND: Keelan Donovan, Emily Hackett, Savannah Philyaw @ Lestats at 9pm

Friday: Kaleo, Josh Damigo @ House of Blues Side Stage at
AND: Belle and Sebastian @ Observatory North Park at 9pm- SOLD OUT
AND: Alanna Clarke, Caroline Corn, Jeremiah Crespo @ Lestats at 9pm

Saturday: The Silent Comedy, Barbarian @ The Irenic at 7pm
AND: Marina and The Diamonds @ Observatory North Park at 8pm- SOLD OUT

Sunday: Nick Howard, Robert Gillies @ Lestats at 9pm


Keep in Mind:
April 26th- Kaiser Chiefs @ House of Blues (rescheduled)
May 1st- Ok Go @ House of Blues
May 1st- Matt and Kim @ Observatory North Park
May 3rd- They Might Be Giants @ Belly Up
May 7th- The Mowgli’s @ Casbah
May 9th- The Growlers @ Observatory North Park
May 16th- Lana Del Ray, Courtney Love @ Sleep Train Amphitheater
May 16th- James Bay @ Belly Up
May 17th- Passion Pit @ The Observatory North Park
May 18th- Shaky Graves @ Belly Up
May 22nd- Paramore @ Cal Coast Credit Open Air Theater
May 29th- Delta Spirit @ The Irenic
May 30th- Delta Spirit @ The Irenic
June 1st- Spoon @ Observatory North Park
June 2nd- Spoon @ North Park Observatory
June 3rd- AWOLNATION @ House of Blues
July 21st- Imagine Dragons, Metric @ Viejas Arena
August 8th- Fall Out Boy @ Sleep Train Amphitheater
September 14- The Who @ Valley View Casino Center
September 19th- Kaaboo @ Del Mar Fairgrounds
September 24th- Foo Fighters @ Sleep Train Amphitheater
October 16th- twenty one pilots @ Cal Coast Credit Open Air Theater

Top Ten Sets of SXSW ’15

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We saw a lot of awesome acts during our time at SXSW thought we don’t have enough time and energy to share with you all of the awesome act we saw, we though we should share with you the highlights of our time in Austin.

Amanda’s Picks:

1. Walking on Cars at Clive Bar

I’m sure you’re already familiar with our Walking on Cars story but just in case you aren’t, I’ll break it down for you… caught half of their first set at SXSW, second set conflicted with another, missed the third (and final) set after literally running there by just a few minutes and lamented them not playing more shows. And then…. the SXSW Magic happens. A band pulls out of a show that a friend is booking, ask them on Twitter if they’re free and want to play another show, they say yes! Like I said, magic. The thing about Walking on Cars is that there’s something really special about them musically. They have a sound that I can’t even begin to classify or describe but I can tell you that I feel their music in my heart and my soul. And it’s a pretty special thing to get a full 30 minute set from a new band love while being around friends who are also dancing along and loving the band you love. this show will forever go down in my personal SXSW History as something so magical and lucky that I still have a hard time believing it actually happened.

2. James Bay at St. Davids

Where to begin with James Bay? I mean, the guy is a guitar and lyrical powerhouse of songs that just pull at your heart and all those emotions you don’t always like to think about. He only had a few shows that were doable schedule wise and one was completely rained out to boot. I only caught half a set at Spotify and that just wasn’t enough James Bay for my taste. The opportunity to see him in a church with those kinds of acoustics is something you’d be hard pressed to walk away from. Truth be told, I almost wasn’t able to get into this show because earlier the showcase had been declared “badge only” and I, the lowly wristband wasn’t allowed in. However, after patiently waiting and enjoying some other music just down the hall, I circled back to try again and as luck would have it, I made it in. The air in the church was palpably electric and the whole room was filled with this charge that went right through your body. It was a feeling that I won’t forget anytime soon. Even though James didn’t play as long a set as he did at Spotify, I can let that go in favor of the story telling behind the song Scars and the feeling of being a part of something really unique and special.

3. Royal Teeth at Stubbs

So this show technically wasn’t during SXSW “officially” but it was still during the week and was kind of a wrap up show. After catching only 2.5 songs of Royal Teeth at the Swan Dive earlier in the week, this was my last opportunity to see a full set from them. The band didn’t disappoint and somehow managed to still have a wonderful amount of energy for the end of the week. Their infectious pop energy was enough to prop me up and keep me going even though I felt dead on my feet. Even though I (sadly) wasn’t familiar with their tunes, it didn’t matter because everyone was bouncing along. I’m not sure what the most memorable part of the show was… when singer Gary Larsen jumped off stage and got into the middle of the crowd for some drumming or maybe when the confetti went flying during their last song and everyone looked so blissfully happy. Regardless, that show was something special.

4. Zeke Duhon at Swan Dive

Truthfully, I don’t know what pulled me to the Swan Dive for Zeke Duhon. I didn’t know him or any of his music but this little voice in my head told me to make sure I made that show and I’m really glad I listened. Zeke was a surprise I hadn’t been expecting and especially after already seeing so much music and reaching a point where it all begins to blend, he was someone who managed to really stand out and make me stop to listen. Probably my favorite part of his set was when he started talking about covering these two different songs and he couldn’t decide which he liked better so he chose to do both. This ended up being a super awesome mashup of Shake It Off and Can’t Tell Me Nothing by Taylor Swift and Kayne West, respectively. I mean, seriously.

5. Colony House at Blackheart

I was so bummed about missing Colony House when they came through San Diego with Sir Sly but I was so happy to see their name on the list for SXSW. Sadly, all their showcases conflicted with something or were just too out of the way. But on SXSW Saturday, I made it a priority to see them and it was especially meant to be because they were just down the road from where I was that morning. Colony House completed slayed at Blackheart on a day that had proved difficult for other bands due to the weather. But some drizzle wasn’t going to stop vocalist Caleb Chapman from hopping onto this box in front of the stage with his mic stand and guitar and then getting some air while jumping back down to the stage, several times I might add. Their whole set was a powerhouse of rock energy that just didn’t let up until they got off the stage. If that’s how they played at the end of the week, I can only image how they are when fully rested, locked, and loaded. Whew.

HM: Jack Garratt at St. Davids

Admittedly, I didn’t really want to stay for Jack Garratt’s set as I had just seen numerous other amazing acts at the church and was pretty darn tired with a write up still to do. However, I’m so glad I did because that guy is something really special. He has the vocals of an angel with the beat skills that is sure to make more than a few established artists jealous. He’s a really interesting juxtaposition of soft melodic vocals and hard bass dropping beats that echo through your chest. As someone in our party said, “he has that combination of soft and hard that Sam Smith tries, and fails to achieve.” He really was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.

Kristen’s Picks:

1. Irontom at Lucky Lounge

Some might say it’s silly to go all the way to Austin to see a band from Los Angeles, but there is something quite special about seeing your favorite bands in a different setting. There is a comfort and joy in experiencing something familiar and a thrill from watching others fall in love for the first time.  Plus, when it’s the end of the week and everyone is delirious from exhaustion, both you and the band are going to have an experience unlike any you would have back at home. This is what made Saturday afternoon’s Irontom set at Lucky Lounge so very special. I was propped up against a wall when singer, Harry Hayes, called out to me from the stage to check that I was okay. He then proceeded to bounce on and off the stage like I’d never seen before, as the entire band gave their all in their final SXSW performance, the third that day. At the end of the set, Irontom newbies clamored for more and without hesitation, the band launched into an encore. It was a set to remember.

2. Charlotte OC at Des Moines Embassy

When I saw Charlotte OC’s name listed as a SXSW artist this year, she flew straight to the top of my “must see” list. Wednesday afternoon, as my friends were retreating back to the hotel for some rest, I insisted on squeezing in one more set when I saw Charlotte’s name on my schedule. I rushed over to the Des Moines Embassy in time to make it up to the front of the stage before she began. She opened with my favorite of her songs, “Hangover”. I knew I was going to like the song, but her live interpretation took the experience to another level. This woman has a presence on stage that goes beyond simply singing her songs. I wasn’t even able to stay for this entire set, but I was so blown away it had to make my list. Fortunately, I caught a full set at The UMG Party at Palm door a few days later.

3. Brandi Carlile at Central Presbyterian Church

Now, this was a once in a lifetime experience! Brandi Carlile took her band of musicians and unplugged them all. They used the venue as another instrument, playing with the acoustics of the room. At one point, sting instruments were placed around the venue and even up in the balconies.  At another time, the band paraded down the aisles with Brandi augmenting her voice via an old fashioned megaphone. I feel like she got through most of her hits as well as several songs off her new album, Firewatcher’s Daughter. When Brandi and the twins broke into my new favorite song, “The Eye”, I wasn’t sure if I was having an allergy attack or if tears were streaming down my cheek because I was so moved by the song in this form.

4. Frank Turner at Red 7 Patio

Frank Turner seems to be a SXSW regular and thank goodness for that! The energy he brings and can create in a room is infectious. I’m not sure that it’s possible to not have a good time at a Frank Turner show. I, for one, was clapping and singing and bouncing along at the one set I was able to catch of Frank’s at the Red 7 Patio. It seemed to be a “play the hits” kind of evening. I would have liked to hear more of the material off his upcoming new release, but it is always great fun being able to sing along with song after song. Mid-way through the set, there was a t-shirt swap with a fan. I hope this becomes a tradition!

5. The Contenders at Bethel Hall

SXSW 2015 offered the first opportunity I’ve had to see this new duo formed by Jay Nash and Josh Day. I was expecting the music to be good (and it was), but more unexpected was the humor and warmth created by the musicians personas revealed through the in between song chit chat. These guys are rivaling The Milk Carton Kids for the award for best banter! The dapper duo captured the audience in the small church hall, delivering a series of sad tunes with happy smiles. At least I had a goofy smile on my face the entire set. I look forward to hearing more from this band.

HM: Young Rising Sons at Maggie Mae’s

I was familiar with their infectious single, “High”, but Young Rising Sons, had an entire set worth of fun and memorable tunes. I’d also call this set a right place, right time kind of deal. I ended up at Maggie Mae’s because there were a lot of great bands at that venue that night. I was tired, but Young Rising Sons provided a perfect pick-me-up. They were fun and easy to enjoy. Sometimes you need a band with good pop sensibilities that can make you dance without thinking. Young Rising Sons came to me just when I needed them and became one of my most fondly remembered sets of the week.


Kristen’s LA Concert Calendar: 1/26-2/1

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Oftentimes I have my weeks pretty planned out in advance. I’m not very good with last minute decision-making. Last week, however, was an aberration on several accounts and as a result I ended up at an epic Butch Walker/Frank Turner show at The Hotel Cafe and an Irontom double header at a new (at least to me) venue downtown called Mrs. Fish.  Weeks like this leave me exhausted but also inspired.

I have some actual plans up my sleeve for this week that will hopefully be equally inspiring. Monday night is Zane Carney’s last residency date at the Hotel Cafe. After 5 months of Mondays, here’s your last chance to see him at this venue before he moves on to bigger things. My other show pick is Thursday night at The Satellite. Crash Kings headline with openers Badflower and My Goodness. On that last band, I’d been meaning to see the Seattle rockers since first hearing their head-banging “Cold Feet Killer”. I feel this will be a show to remember.

Here are the rest of my picks:



Monday: Zane Carney at The Hotel Cafe (9pm)
ALSO: It’s a School Night at Bardot f. Wolf Alice (8:30)
ALSO: An Evening w/ Judd Apatow & Friends f. Fiona Apple, The Milk Carton Kids, and more (8:30)
ALSO: Wilding FREE at The Satellite (11pm)
ALSO: The Ting Tings at The Troubadour (8pm)
ALSO: Mates of State at Bootleg HiFi (8pm)
ALSO: Monday Monday at Room 5 (8pm)
ALSO: Hunnypot Radio Live FREE at The Mint (7pm)


Tuesday: Leighton Meester w/ Liza Anne & Dana Williams, Tony Lucca at The Hotel Cafe (7, 9:30)
ALSO: Ivory Deville w/ Tumbleweed Wanderers FREE at The Echo (9pm)
ALSO: The Shakers at Genghis Cohen (9:30)
ALSO: Mini Mansions at The Troubadour (8pm)


Weds: Laleh, Leighton Meester  w/ Dana Williams at The Hotel Cafe (9:30)
ALSO: The Entrance Band at The Satellite (11pm)


Thursday: The Crash Kings w/ My Goodness and Badflower at The Satellite (9pm)
ALSO: Badass Bands Blog presents at The Silverlake Lounge f. The Absolute and more (8pm)
ALSO: Brooke Fraser w/ Dark Waves at The Fonda Theatre (9pm)
ALSO: Blackfeather Jane at Loaded (10pm)
ALSO: Susanna Hoffs & Friends at Largo (8:30)
ALSO: Sam Smith at The Forum (8pm)


Friday: Nick Perri Group and Jimmy Gnecco at The Viper Room (9pm)
ALSO: Jim Bianco, David & Devine at The Hotel Cafe (9, 10)
ALSO: The Diamond Light at The Satellite (11pm)
ALSO: Sean Watkins at McCabe’s (8pm)
ALSO: Sam Smith at The Forum (8pm)
ALSO: The Airborne Toxic Event at The Troubadour (8pm)
ALSO: Patti Smith at The Theatre at Ace Hotel (7:30)


Saturday: Jukebox the Ghost w/ Twin Forks and Secret Someones at The El Rey (8pm)
ALSO: Matthew Jordan, Jay Denton, and Mat Bednarsky at Genghis Cohen (9pm)
ALSO: No Small Children at El Cid (10pm)
ALSO: Stray Birds w/ Jordie Lane at The Hotel Cafe (7pm)
ALSO: Bush w/ Theory of a Deadman at The Wiltern (7pm)


Sunday: John Ondrasik (Five for Fighting) w/ Quartet at The El Rey (8pm)



To Keep in Mind:
Feb. 6th: Hozier at The Fonda
Feb. 6-7th: Blackberry Smoke at The Troubadour
Feb. 9th: Catfish and the Bottlemen at The Troubadour
Feb. 9th: Father John Misty at The Roxy
Feb. 9th: Matthew Perryman Jones at The Hotel Cafe
Feb. 10th: Ben Howard at Shrine Expo Hall
Feb. 14th: Saints of Valory at The Hotel Cafe
Feb. 18th: Over The Rhine and William Fitzsimmons at The Troubadour
Feb. 19th: The Janks at The Bootleg
Feb. 19th: Milo Greene at The El Rey
Feb. 24th: David Cook at The Troubadour
Feb. 24th: Penny and Sparrow at The Hotel Café
Feb. 26th: Empires at The Echo
March 7th: Joshua Radin at The Fonda
March 7th: The Districts at The Troubadour
March 13th: Sir Sly at The Wiltern
March 19th: Joe Pug at The Echo
March 24th: Neulore at The Mint
March 27th: Echosmith at The Fonda Theatre
April 4th: Ben Sollee at The House of Blues
May 3rd: Tonight Alive at The Wiltern
May 20th: Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds at The Orpheum


~ Kristen