The conversation on the bias and inequality in the entertainment industry has been going on for some time now. In 2015, the movement behind raising the bar for women in film and entertainment has thankfully stretched beyond idol mentions and has consistently boiled up into action beyond words. Tonight’s Moonfaze Feminist Film festival at LA Mother aims to “disrupt the status quo” of homogeneity and patriarchy by dedicating a night solely to outstanding talent in feminist film.

I couldn't help but notice the focus of a recent article in Quartz, (“Music festivals are making more money by ditching cash,” December 1, 2015) was on how festivals are embracing cashless payment systems. Really? That unto itself is not necessarily news, as cashless payment systems are not a new, twinkle in the eye technology.

What stands out is that the case study referenced was the Clockenflap Music Festival - in Hong Kong. The actual news is the continuing adoption of cashless, not only in the U.S., the U.K. and Europe, but in Asia.

In years past RFID systems were put in place to manage more streamlined access control, while some festivals, even the larger ones, put cashless into the ‘maybe someday’ category. At the same time, numerous festivals have implemented the technology with great success.

So that ‘someday’ has arrived. Fear of adoption will continue to plague festival promoters through a loss of competitive edge. There’s a way to overcome this. Festival leaders have opportunities to go into potential implementations with a clear idea of how these technologies work and better predict the outcome by learning from others who’ve walked the walk.

This month in San Diego, event technology companies, festival organizers, promoters, and thought leaders will gather at the annual International Music Festival Conference (IMFCON) + International Film Festival Summit (IFFS) to discuss how far festival operations, in all its facets, has come and what’s in store for the 2016 season (and beyond).

The three-day conference will dive into both film and music festivals, looking at trends and advancements in each industry, including the evolution of programming, operations, and attendee engagement (“Reviewing the Modern Film Festival: Current and Future Possibilities,” featuring Steven Gaydos VP and Executive Editor, Variety, and Colin Stanfield, Festival Producer, New York Film Festival).

Taking a look back at last this past year's festival season, “The Golden Age of Festivals” has Andy Hermann, Music Editor for LA Weekly, asking panelists Branden Chapman, The Recording Academy; Tom Russell, Founders Entertainment; and Simon Rust Lamb, Former COO & General Counsel for Insomniac, about the potential for a festival bubble to burst, when competition shows up in your backyard unexpectedly, and how they’re preparing for festival season 2016.

“Making Waves: Innovative Revenue Models for Music Festivals” will most likely include a conversation on cashless payment systems (Jeff, will you guys give Intellitix the green light to take Bonnaroo cashless in 2016?), along with how ticketing, social media, and fan engagement has evolved to drive an increase in sales.

Tapping into ways festivals can expand their brand’s reach beyond the people in attendance, “Creating Your Festival Channel: Technology, Strategy and More” will dive into how streaming, video, radio and social channels bring a larger audience into the live event experience. Google will join in along with SFX, Goldenvoice, Open Garden, and Bulldog Digital Media, who will moderate the conversation. Potential questions may include: How have these activations and tactics  proven to drive the following year’s ticket sales, with the proverbial fan FOMO being played to their advantage? How can these pieces of content be repurposed throughout the year’s marketing and sales efforts?

I expect other topics of discussion will arise, but with a slightly more elevated take than last year’s IMFCON, as experiences and intelligence is shared:

How can we operate Health & Safety better?

How will climate change shift current emergency response practices and will next-generation technology solutions help to avoid problems that plagued the 2015 season?

When will the U.S. be able to go beyond the tabu of drug testing and embrace the benefits of this practice as their festival counterparts in the U.K. and Europe have done?

What festivals are increasing their use of iBeacons, notifications, geofencing, and evolved social media tools, and what was the outcome from this past year? What’s the potential for 2016?

Where are networking technologies like mesh and mobile-to-mobile platforms headed?

How will convergence of film, comedy, music, food & wine impact festival programming as fans increase their desire for diversified experiences?

What part does small to mid-sized and niche festivals play in the industry and what are the operational benefits and challenges?

How will the evolution of VR play a part in the real-time and post festival experience for the fan?

How will M&A continue to impact the festival space, both on the promoter and the technology side?

When is happy hour?!

Many questions. No doubt, many answers will be taken away from this year’s IMFCON-IFFS.

And along with the panels are the numerous and unique opportunities to connect face-to-face with new and old acquaintances alike, sparked opportunities for business partnerships, and chances to pluck knowledge nuggets and that could potentially make a huge difference in this coming festival season.

See you there!

Register for IMFCON here.
For more information on IMFCON go here.

03 Dec 2015

If you’ve been dismayed by the dirge of electronic music that’s liken to a root canal without anesthetic, Slow Magic brings instant relief with sounds of joy, of a fantasy trip through the enchanted kingdom, as if he tapped psychically into your happiest memories and put them to song.

That first experience of seeing Slow Magic a few years back at Larimer Lounge was just more expansive this past year when he opened for Hot Chip at the Ogden. The crowd was already all smiles and giddy, knowing what was in store for all of us that night. The Wolfe in dance clothing kicked things into high gear with tracks from this year’s stunning album, How To Run Away, a perfect soundtrack for escapism and inspiration.

Slow Magic // Girls - Live On Tour

The kids went nuts for one of the fav singles, “Girls,” pulsing and prancing from the top of your head down to the money maker. “Hold Still” simmers and flows with introspection, like a solo walk in the rain in the low light of dusk, and midway through and many miles later, you reach a peak to see the sun rising ever so softly as you’re serenaded..”hold still…hold still…”

“Still Life” enters the eardrums with a simple yet poignant piano line, emerging and twisting into a jazz licked melody, with a bit of 70s soul layered atop chattering drums and rhythms.

With 2012’s Triangle and now How To Run Away, the masked music maker is clearly focused on creating electronic music that’s an expression of our most human elements. Whether he’s in a small club in Denver or the Ukraine, or a larger venue with thousands, he always brings that magic to the stage to complete the circle as people dance, bounce and sweat with glee.

See Slow Magic tonight at the Gothic with his tour mates Giraffage and Lindsay Lowend.

DEC 13, 2015 - EUGENE, OR - HI-FI

The last day of Culture Collide is packed to the max with a full day of shows featuring both domestic and local acts along with a bevy of international bands. Time to get a hearty brunch, and a bit of hair of the dog with tons of hydration, since it's another hot one today. For all your vinyl freaks, the day kicks off with a free outdoor party where many of our favorite labels - Anti, Anticon, Last Gang Records, Burger Records, Ninja Tune, Epitaph, Saddle Creek, Eenie Meanie, Delicious Vinyl - have their wares for sale.

Culture Collide continues tonight in Echo Park with another stellar line up taking place in SIX venues. First things first is the revised set times for Echo Park Methodist Church:

6PM - Maya Johanna | מיה יוהנה
6:45PM - Panda Elliot
8:15PM - Cristina Valentina
9:00PM - Balthazar
10:00PM - The Album Leaf

Tickets are available here.

Here's our picks for tonight:


Grounders - 6:30pm TAIX

Gounders, a lovely four-piece goes perfectly with the dog days of summer that in Southern California fashion, is dripping ever so warmly into our fall days in October. Releasing their self-titled debut in spring of this year and have been running full steam ever since, showcasing at SXSW, summer festivals, and now Culture Collide this weekend. They'll stay on tour to play Moe's Bar-B-Que on October 11 before showcasing at CMJ.


Panda Elliot - 7:30pm Echo Park Methodist Church

Touring here from Argentina, Panda Elliot mixes a cocktail of underground club alt rock, indie dance, and Latin jazz soundscapes with a modern twist. Her love for the dark are lovely come through bright and fresh on her cover of The Cure's "Love Song," and then easilly bounces over to acoustic a capella in the recently posted "Velociraptor" recorded live in Jacksonville during their current tour.


Balthazar - 9pm Echo Park Methodist Church

To say I'm ecstatic to finally catch Belgium's Balthazar would be a huge understatement. Having been a full fan status since 2010's Applause, the same year of their supreme performances during SXSW, I couldn't get enough of how Balthazar continued to stretching their musical limbs to the height of a Cirque de Soilie performer, twirly 50 feet above the crowd in breathtaking grace and glory. “Any Suggestion” on Rats, the second album that appeared two years later, goes well with a whiskey neat whilst sitting next to Tom Waits at the neighborhood dive bar. "Nightclub" strums along with dirgy determination, one of the singles from the newest album, Thin Walls, and "Bunker" comes 'round for the latenight walk home, hoody covering your head in the misty moonlit air.


Album Leaf - 10:30pm Echo Park Methodist Church

Album Leaf is another band I have yet to see live since 2010, the year I chatted with Jimmy LaValle after he'd moved to Santa Cruz during his wife's graduate school education. Five years later, and Album Leaf's label Sub Pop is in reissue mode of In A Safe Place, out of print since 2007, and will include a black and limited edition colored vinyl of "Loser." In addition to Culture Collide this evening, Album Leaf is set to perform said album in its entirety at at All Tomorrow’s Parties “Nightmare Before Christmas” and then again at Prestatyn Holiday Centre, North Wales, UK, November 27th-29th.


Full Culture Collide Schedule for Friday, October 9 - tickets are available here.

Visiting the CBS Mix 94.1 and X107.5 Downtown Soundhouse today at Life is Beautiful, Mike Kerr, bassist and singer for Royal Blood, and drummer Ben Thatcher chatted a bit with radio hosts MJ and Pauly. It was a lively ten minutes, touching on topics from their early wedding singer days to strip clubs and losing one’s concert-going virginity to Goldfrapp, along with numerous shots of sarcascim and dry wit to complement the free Dos Equis and Kettle One.

Pauly: So this is your first time in Vegas…

Mike: This is actually my third.

Ben: This is my first.

Pauly: Well, first time as Royal Blood in Las Vegas.

Mike: There’s a third time for everything, right?

MJ: Are you going to swing [Ben] around to strip clubs or something? I mean, he needs to be broken in.

Mike: I’ll want to do that. Haven’t had a formal band meeting about that yet, but yeah.

Pauly: We can have a meeting right now. All in favor of the strip club say aye…

Crowd: Aye!!

MJ: So you guys started out as wedding singers?

Mike: Yes, that’s correct.

Pauly: No kidding!

Mike: We did do that once upon a time.

Pauly: Lots of crazy cover songs?

Mike: Not crazy, just the standard ones…

Pauly: “You Are So Beautiful”…

Mike: Thank you.

MJ: What is one you did…

Mike: “Easy Like Sunday Morning,” or things like, “Mama Mia.”

MJ: So the classics. You guys have gotten the attention of some huge names: Tom Morrello, Jimmy Page. The Arctic Monkeys. Everybody loves you when they see you. Like, ’These guys are going to be dominating soon.’

Pauly: My first job in radio was for X107.5 pushing buttons for the Howard Stern Show about a year ago. You were the first new band that he has spoken about in almost two decades. That had to have felt great inside.

Mike: If I’m going to be totally honest, I didn’t have that much awareness of Howard until he asked us. Then I started Googling him and realized how sheltered my life had been.

Pauly: I’d been listening to the guy for years upon years, so as soon as he mentioned you and gave his stamp of approval, to me, you guys blew up after that. Foo Fighters had you on tour for the east coast. What was that all about?

Mike: Yeah, it was amazing. I don’t really know what else to stay about it really. That was our dream support slot. If you look back, have some spare time with pretty much nothing else to do, look back and watch interviews with us in the early days, and all we talk about is going on tour with the Foo Fighters. If the dream was to come true, that would be a good one. And it did.

MJ: You guys are just incredible. Dropped your self-titled debut in March. (To the crowd.) Make sure you get it if you haven’t yet. What bands are you looking forward to seeing. I know you’re going to be here tomorrow too, just chilling, hanging out.

Mike: Duran Duran. That’s why I’m here, if I’m honest. We’re just here to see Duran Duran.

Ben: And Snoop Dog.

Pauly: There’s just two of you. And such a full rock sound. I mean, you’re keeping rock alive in a day that’s so digital and electric. How does it feel to pull the weight on your shoulders right now?

Mike: Terrifying.

Pauly: Okay, great. (To the crowd) Have you seen Royal Blood live and on stage? (See our review of the Royal Blood’s Bonnaroo performance). It’s going to be one of the most rocking parts of the Life is Beautiful Festival. How did two guys do all of that?

Mike: Well, I can answer that question because we are those two guys. So it’s very convenient. The answer is very long and very boring, so, get comfy.

(Ben decides the theatre seats down below are actually more comfy than the barstool on the stage, and promptly drops down and settles himself into one, but still has the microphone to chime in when needed.)

Mike: We decided to start a band like every other band member would. When me and Ben met, which was around the age of 15, 16, we loved playing music together, and that’s what got us talking, isn’t it Ben.

Ben: Correct. He’s not lying.

Mike: Years passed. We’d done many weddings. We saw divorces. We even played at those parties. We played in restaurants. And this is all different bands, playing lots of different instruments. At one point Ben was even singing, and I was playing the keyboards. Eventually we found a combination, which is what we are now, which is the bass and the drum set. Does that answer your question?

Pauly: It’s a thick line of kick ass. Everybody has a first show, that live experience when you see a band for the first time. Unfortunately, my first ban was Whitney Houston. A great talent, but it wasn’t rock and roll. What was your first experience and what lit that spark for you?

Mike: It was a Goldfrapp concert. Not sure if anyone has heard of Goldfrapp. It’s brilliant. I went with a friend, and was possibly the only straight person in the room, because, she attracts a lot of gays, basically, which is great. But I wasn’t, so my first concert experience was, that I thought only gay people went to concerts. So I was very confused. There was lots of same sex people making out. And I thought, “Is this something that only gay people do?” A beautiful, naive position to have. But I did feel slightly awkward.

Ben: It’s ‘cause he likes vaginas.

Mike: Yeah.

MJ: What about you Ben, what was your first show?

Ben: Mine was, I think it was Linkin Park.

(Cheers from the crowd again.)

Mike: Similar story then?

Ben: Yeah. That was weird.

Royal Blood play the Downtown main stage at Life is Beautiful today at 4:45pm. Bring your lip balm so your smacker is fully ready for a making out session.

“This is my church. This is where I heal my hurts.” Faithless nailed it on the head when they coined this lyric. It’s a belief many of us take to heart when we’re on that dance floor, feeling the music wash over us like flowing baptismal water, cleaning way the debris of the day. This ethos is also quite fitting for Tchami. When donned in his clerical collar, the Parisian DJ and producer is known to lead his congregation of dancers to the promised land of house-bass’d bliss.

In our multitasking world, music listening is typically done while we’re busy doing other things; driving, working, polishing the silver. Gone are the days of laying on the floor with our big headphones and simply listening to every note, memorizing lyrics, feeling the bridge and chorus. The musical experience performed by Cardiff’s, now Los Angeles, Until the Ribbon Breaks causes one to pull off the road, to stop, lay and listen to the gorgeously orchestrated, multi-faceted A Lesson Unlearnt.

28 Aug 2015

Zak Efron stars in his latest film, “We Are Your Friends,” playing Cole Carter, a 23-year old DJ and aspiring producer, directed by a Max Joseph (Catfish: The TV Show). Considering how EDM has skyrocketed in popularity worldwide in the last ten years, financially and culturally, it’s surprising there aren’t more films with plots focused on dance culture and all its components. Maybe that’s a good thing.

We as human beings are highly empathetic; unconsciously so. We see others in pain, crying, bombing on a comedy stage, we start to feel the experience as if it was our own. And just as much on the positive side, we can become joyous by seeing others expressing joy. Option4 (aka Brennen Bryarly) is not only a pro at Chicago House and rolling a crowd into a boogie-down frenzy, he’s doing so with a huge wide smile and shakin’ his groove thing just as much as the rest of us. It’s then that joy becomes highly contagious.

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