Opening Day at Vertex Music Festival

By: Sierra Voss

The first day at Vertex had cars lined up as festival-goers excitedly filled into the camping grounds. It was definitely a get-to-know-your-neighbor situation, as tents were lined up directly behind each personal car. It wasn’t long before the field rapidly became a tent city. Flags were raised, and pool floaties were blown up and mounted on top of cars. Humans started to play lawn games in any space left untouched, as we patiently waited for the first bands to take the stage.

Big Wild.

Big Wild.

Which brings me to the lay of the land. There are three main stages on the festival grounds, and when you first enter the Vertex gates, you stumble upon a pretty heady little world. There is a cottage simply filled with balloons, a shed were women offer to wash your clothes for you with washboards (random and weird), and a nap tent. It all feels somewhat reminiscent of Electric Forest.

Fruition.

Fruition.

When it comes to the music, the band Fruition took the first big main stage around 2PM. The vibe was pretty mellow during their set, and remained so until later in the night as festival-goers slowly trickled in and explored the grounds. Things really started to pick up when Anderson Paak took the Cottonwood Parlor main stage. He put on an awesomely energetic show, hopping down to dance on the monitors and bouncing all around the stage. Paak rocks a pretty sweet septum piercing and has a smile that will make yah weak in the knees. He ended his performance rippin’ it behind his drum set.  

You definitely have to remain flexible and open to different vibes at this festival. The musical lineup for the weekend is incredibly diverse, and jumps from hip hop to bluegrass to EDM, all within the span of a day. Right after Anderson Paak, the band Dawes took the stage. Dawes was a 100% different musical vibe than Paak, but they laid down an equally impressive set.

My personal favorite shows of the night were Alabama Shakes, Jai Wolf, and Gramatik. Each artist crushed it, but Alabama Shakes really slayed. Lead singer Brittany Howard ripped out some powerful notes that filled my entire body with soul. It was beyond epic watching her belt out tune after tune.

Alabama Shakes.

Alabama Shakes.

It was an impressive first day for the start of Vertex Music Festival. I am now sitting here bright and early on day two, watching festi-goers yoga it up. And yes I said watching, not participating. It’s gonna be another rad day of music. Round two let’s go…

-Sierra

All photos per the author for BolderBeat. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Brian Wilson, Blood Orange, & Anderson Paak: Day Two at Pitchfork Music Festival Was a Success

By: Annie Kane

Day two at Pitchfork was quite a success.

Pitchfork Music Festival.

Pitchfork Music Festival.

The weather yesterday was something festival goers wish for every year, and in Chicago, those humidity-free 80 degree days are quite a rarity. With a crowd that seemed almost double in size compared to the day before, every stage was bumping and filled with trendy music listeners.

Blood Orange.

Blood Orange.

Blood Orange’s set was just as magical as I was hoping it would be: donning simple jogger pants and a headband, Devonte Hynes started things off by playing the audio track off of the first song from his recent album, Freetown Sound. The woman’s voice on the track echoed off the park, as she spoke in slam-poetry style about feminism and media representation in today's society. You could feel the audience’s emotion as cheers swelled up in the strong points of her speech. Hynes then sat down on his low-set piano, playing simple notes that hushed the enormous crowd gathered to see him perform. As he rose to grab a mic, two of Hynes’ fierce backup singers strutted across the stage to their mics and the saxophonist grabbed his instrument as they all, in perfect synchronization, began “Augustine”. Later on, Hynes brought out Carly Rae Jepsen for the tune, “All That”. Hynes’ unique style blends the culture of off-pop 90’s music with clear inspiration from David Bowie and Prince, tied into his own unique vision. Hynes seemed so relaxed on stage, as he twirled around singing dreamy notes and with the sun shining behind him, the atmosphere of the set was almost ethereal.

BJ The Chicago Kid.

BJ The Chicago Kid.

BJ The Chicago Kid surprised me with a heartfelt emotion reflected on his face during his performance, and his hardcore drumming skills between songs. His backup guitarist absolutely shredded a few solos of his own, and BJ covered a lot of songs, including tunes from other notable Chicago artists like Kanye West (“THat Part”) and Chance the Rapper (“No Problem”).

Brian Wilson.

Brian Wilson.

Brian Wilson started his set early, and as I ran up to catch the last spot in the photo pit, I found myself pausing for a second as the group sang “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”. The song sounded exactly like the Pet Sounds recording, making me question if The Beach Boys were all somehow back together on stage. Wilson remained behind his big grand piano for the length of the performance, staring at his sheet music and occasionally glancing into the jeering crowd. One fan at the front screamed out during a quiet pause, “This is my favorite album ever!” The band members all smiled, and for the whole set, they seemed happy to be performing some of the most beautiful music ever composed. Chicago natives John Cusack (who played Brian Wilson in the film “Love and Mercy”), along with his sister Joan, both came out for a song and sang at the front of the stage with one of the backup singers. Everyone seemed as if they were in a sweet stupor of nostalgia during Wilson’s set.

Anderson Paak.

Anderson Paak.

Since catching Anderson Paak & The Free Nationals at Red Rocks, I have had my eye set on snapping Paak again. I was buzzing with excitement as he ran onstage and went right into “Milk N’ Honey”. Standing between two speakers that were blasting bass so hard that my dress was being blown around, I couldn’t hear Paak’s voice well over the mic, but I was close enough to actually hear him from my spot near the stage. Being so close, I could feel the energy radiating off of Paak and his whole band. He brought so much more power to this performance, keeping energy high by going right into his almost trap-like song, “Drugs”, from the album Venice. He jumped over to the speaker next to me, singing down into my lens before stepping over my head. After the first three songs, security pushed press back, as I reluctantly left the pit. Despite being back in the crowd, the energy was still palpable as Paak got the audience to dance their faces off. It was fantastic.

Hands Up.

Hands Up.

I can say I’m glad to be here, and yesterday’s shows were incredible. Stay tuned for more Pitchfork coverage!

Check out more Pitchfork Festival photos here.

-Annie

Connect with me on twitter and instagram.

All photos per the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

"Yes Lawd!": Anderson Paak is on an Other-Worldly Level & He's Coming to Colorado's Vertex Festival

By: Annie Kane

With all the odds against him, Anderson Paak’s career has turned into something dreams are made of.

Anderson Paak at his recent Red Rocks performance.

Anderson Paak at his recent Red Rocks performance.

Despite changing his name from Lovejoy to Anderson Paak, the artist behind both monikers hasn’t moved away from his initial philosophy: turning a negative past into beautiful and inspiring music, and calling forth love and compassion from those who listen to it.

A lot of Paak’s inspiration behind his musical method was recently revealed in an interview with Pitchfork, where he discussed two painful memories: one of his father beating his mother, and the other of his father’s death after serving a 14+ year prison sentence. The trials and tribulations in Paak’s life don’t end there, but these hardships certainly serve as a point of reference for the size of the hurdles Paak has had to overcome. Paak’s mother, on the other hand, dedicated herself to raising him and taught him to transform his hardships. Paak speaks on this in his song “The Season | Carry Me” in which he calls out repeatedly, “Mama will you carry me?”

Paak on the kit.

Paak on the kit.

Paak has surely made it his goal not only to redefine himself, but also to create impactful music that can affect multiple genres. Listening to one of Paak’s albums will take you on a journey through the culture of music yesterday, today and tomorrow. His recognizably raspy and charismatic voice carries through over jazz, R&B, trap, funk and experimental rock. Paak recently told Noisey, “People have said I couldn’t do songs with all these different genres, with all these different artists. It made me wanna break the rules.” And break the rules he has.

Listen to Anderson Paak's album Malibu:

Paak’s latest album, Malibu, begins with a soulful R&B tune, “The Bird” and before you’re ready for it, he jumps right into a completely new vibe with “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance”. The jazzy, drum-driven introduction to this song is reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 album, To Pimp A Butterfly. Malibu continues to ebb and flow in various directions, teleporting listeners from 80s skate rinks in “Am I Wrong”, to futuristic clubs in “Parking Lot”, and finally to a dreamy jazz lounge in “Room In Here”. The entire album is laced with samples of old recordings of interviews, documentaries, and advertisements too, keeping your ear intrigued. This release proves that Paak has mastered his craft, and is bringing the 21st century music culture with him as he pushes creative boundaries.

Paak with The Free Nationals.

Paak with The Free Nationals.

Just last month, we caught Anderson Paak and The Free Nationals’ recent show at Red Rocks with Bryson Tiller, and can personally guarantee that he will give one of the liveliest performances you will ever see. Paak grooves on stage with a dance style just as unique as his music, and fearlessly jumps over his drum set to drive the beat of his songs while incredulously still singing and rapping. Anderson Paak is on an ethereal level that doesn’t come around often. Which is why we recommend you buy your tickets to Vertex Festival in Buena Vista, CO now! The festival is scheduled for the weekend of August 5th-7th, and Paak is at the top of our must-see list on the lineup. We’ll be covering the festival, so stay tuned, and in the meantime, get your tickets to Vertex here.

-Annie

Connect with me on twitter and instagram.

All photos per the author; embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited.

Anderson Paak Made Us Dance at Red Rocks Last Night

By: Annie Kane

Since this year’s SXSW, Anderson Paak and The Free Nationals have taken the world by storm, spreading their inventive style that fuses jazz, R&B and hip-hop.

Anderson Paak.

Anderson Paak.

Hailing from California, Anderson Paak first started producing music from his bedroom as a teen and drummed at his family’s local church. Fast forward to 2014 and you can find him appearing on six songs from Dr. Dre’s album, Compton. The support from this music legend broke Paak into the music scene, leading him to collaborate with the likes of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, ASAP Ferg, Kaytranda, and more. Since his energetic performance at SXSW, the name Anderson Paak and The Free Nationals has been popping up everywhere, from Twitter to late night shows, to summer music festivals.

Paak in the crowd at Red Rocks.

Paak in the crowd at Red Rocks.

Last night, Anderson Paak and The Free Nationals joined forces with Bryson Tiller for a stunning show at Red Rocks. The artistry Paak demonstrated was incredible. Paak’s roots shined onstage as he navigated between grooving solo on the mic, to jumping behind his drum set and being one with the band. With a contagious smile plastered across his face the entire time, Paak showed off his finest dance moves in-between, effortlessly breathing his raspy lyrics into the mic. His stylistic ability to transform himself between a rapper, singer, and drummer proves not only his strong musical capabilities, but also the dedication he has toward his art.

Anderson Paak and The Free Nationals.

Anderson Paak and The Free Nationals.

Despite being the frontman, Anderson Paak held no dictatorship over the stage. The Free Nationals were as much a part of the performance as Paak was. Their sound was tight and they weren’t afraid to interact with each other to create a fun environment on stage. Each performer was able to spread their infectious energy, prompting fans to break out their own dance moves, which made for a musical celebration unlike any other.

Malibu Attitude.

Malibu Attitude.

With an ode to the late David Bowie in their brief rendition of the beginning of “Let’s Dance”, Paak and The Free Nationals brought their set to a close, with every fan still eagerly dancing on their feet.

Keep up with Anderson Paak and The Free Nationals here. And see them at Vertex Festival with us in August!

-Annie

Connect with me on twitter and instagram.

All photos per the author; embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited.