Denver's Annabelle Raps About The Importance Of Self-Love

By: Taylor Naiman

Annabelle is The Mile High’s very own 20-year-old female rap artist, and she’s making big moves in the industry. After a brief stint in Los Angeles, she returned to her native Denver to hone her sound. Her introduction to the Denver scene was over a year ago at her first open mic and at the time, she felt like one of Denver’s only female artists. Still, she kept pursuing more stage opportunities at places like The Gothic and Cervantes’ Masterpiece, and while doing so, explored a range of sounds: hip-hop, jazz, rap, and soul.

Annabelle.

Annabelle.

Throughout the duration of her first EP, The Desire, Annabelle creates a storybook and gives the audience her true raw emotion. She has found a balance both lyrically and musically where she can explore different sounds and her own vulnerabilities. Her music is “melodic, soulful and highly vulnerable with hip-hop and jazz undertones.” It is open, emotional, and conveys her vulnerabilities. She strives to give her audience a spiritual awakening.

Photo Credit: Bobby Vasquez

Photo Credit: Bobby Vasquez

Annabelle told me that she is most influenced by artists she herself can dance to, such as Ashanti, Missy Elliott, 2Pac, Bone Thugs N’ Harmony and J. Cole. Lyrically, she likes J. Cole, Chance the Rapper, and Kendrick Lamar. She told me, “I think I hold the same potential as any one of those legends.” And maybe that confidence is just what she needs.

Photo Credit: Bobby Vasquez

Photo Credit: Bobby Vasquez

Currently, Annabelle is working on three EPs in the studio, composed with a new energy and varied tones. They are going to be all about her life journey and “how people can be dangerous.” Each will unmask more of her vulnerabilities pertaining to relationships, self-love, and her continued growth. She describes this music as being reminiscent of an ambient Odesza sound with a  jazzy feel and a hint of a “50 Cent club record.” When she is not in the studio, you can catch her either riding horses or modeling in front of the camera.

Well-attuned to her style and vibe, Annabelle is someone to keep an eye out for. I recently had the chance to ask her a few more questions about her music:

What was your favorite song to write and why?

Should I’ because of the whole story behind it. I walked in on my ex with another girl in his bed. I was pretty calm about the whole situation at the time and didn’t know how to feel about it right when it happened. I tried to write a song about the way I was feeling and it went a couple of different ways before I finished it. But I went from the honest, vulnerable side when I wrote ‘Should I.’ It’s the battle, where you ask yourself, ‘What should I do?’ For me, it is a very poetic song where I can prove my self-love.

What is one piece of advice you would give to another female in the music industry?

Always know your worth and do not settle for anything less. Do not be afraid to tell people, ‘no’ in this industry. Have the confidence to do so! If your ideas do not align with those of other individuals, do not settle.

Learn more about Annabelle and her music here.

-Taylor

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Aminé & Towkio Team Up For Denver Cervantes Show (10/10)

By: Annie Kane

Hailing from opposite coasts but equally matched in their recognizable talent and quirky personalities, Aminé and Towkio will take to Cervantes’ stage this Tuesday, October 10th.

Towkio is a beloved Chicagoan and fellow member of the original Savemoney crew.  His edgy vocals sprinkled with a mix of live instruments and bubbly production have made him an enticing target for features, continuously appearing on songs with the likes of Joey Purp, Kami, theMIND, Vic Mensa, and Chance the Rapper. His lyrics often articulate strong references to his Chicago heritage, club scenes, and introspective philosophical wonderings. His debut mixtape .WAV Theory is a prime example of how he skillfully interweaves these elements all while continuing to critically push the musical envelope. Just this past weekend, he released “Swim,” a celebratory musical experience. His next project, WWW, is reportedly “on the horizon.”

Breakout star and Portland rapper Aminé will headline. Note: He has been wearing and will be wearing the same pants for every night of his 25 city tour. Why? He explained on Twitter, “I’m wearing one pair of pants for the whole tour adding a unique patch for every city… I’m bring 1 fan on stage every show to write on their city’s patch.” Pretty cool reason, I’d say. His debut album, Good For You, dropped this past summer after his “Caroline” video captured the humor and attention of millions of viewers. He snagged features from memorable artists such as Kehlani, Nelly, and Charlie Wilson among others. Aminé’s authenticity to himself is adored by many and proven successful when integrated into his music.

Catch these poppin’ new artists at Denver’s rowdy Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom this week! Tickets available for purchase here!

-Annie

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Chance The Rapper's Intern Opens Up About Working For His Favorite Rapper & How One Night at Red Rocks Changed Everything

Hospedales & Chance. 

Hospedales & Chance. 

You may recall a few months back when Chance The Rapper put out a request for an intern across his social media. Canada’s Nagele Hospedales got the gig after turning his resume into a website that went viral. Recently, Hospedales opened up about what life was like touring the globe with Chicago’s hometown hero. From arranging story time for the rapper with Dave Chappelle to coordinating Chance’s hoops sessions with Migos, Hospedales eventually writes,

“I can talk all I want about my run-ins with various celebrities including the ones I lived with for 2 months, or how a taste of the VIP lifestyle changed me, but the first moment that really left shivers down my spine was a slightly more natural one:
Night 2 at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, CO.
The band intros happen nearly halfway thru the show, and after the ovation for ‘Mr. Nico Segal’, ”Sunday Candy” begins. Suddenly, it was if the heavens literally opened up for a second; right as the vocalists harmonized the lines “Come on in this house, cause it’s gonna rain, Rain down Zion, it’s gonna rain”, the most peaceful light mist fell from the sky until the end of the song and as suddenly as they started, ceased. Something about that moment made me realize that I, or rather we, were doing something right, enough so to please our God & Mother Nature & the sky themselves.”

A life defining moment had at Red Rocks? We get you Hospedales.

Read Hospey's full adventures as Chance’s intern here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. Cover photo per Julia Ordog. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Bonnaroo’s Sweet Sixteen: Amish Donuts, Twerkin' with Freedia, Mayor Chance The Rapper, & More

By: Julia Ordog

In case you missed it: Big changes and festival highlights from Bonnaroo 2017. 

It's important to use both hands.

It's important to use both hands.

This year, 65,000 people made the annual pilgrimage to Manchester TN to help Bonnaroo celebrate its birthday with Amish donuts, high fives, spontaneous art, and, of course, a sweet lineup. After 16 years, it’s safe to say that the majority of attendees are a new generation than those that originally formed the first festival in 2002, and the producers have not let this slide by unnoticed. While last year brought a few changes to The Farm that were mostly unremarkable (with the exception of permanent bathrooms, and Live Nation’s first full year at the helm), this year, Bonnaroo got an impressive facelift to keep up with the crowd and meet the younger Bonnaroovians more on their turf.

 "The Other” 2.0

The Other Stage.

The Other Stage.

Throughout the years, it’s been entirely common for stages to come and go and be renamed (Sonic, Who, Kalliope, etc), though the two main stages and three side tents have remained untouched since 2003. This year, EDM fans were given the gift of a remodeled stage in the form of the brand new "The Other.” Previously a tent, The Other had its top blown off and was injected with the spirit of Kalliope (the EDM stage from the last two years known for raging late into the night with the massive VW bug next to it). Now sort of like Which’s electronic little sister, The Other welcomed Big Gigantic, Cherub’s Jason Huber, Marshmello, and many more DJs to the stage this year.

Bacardi Beach 

Bacard's Oasis.

Bacard's Oasis.

In the area Kalliope used to call home, new sponsor Bacardi made its debut with the Bacardi beach- a sandbar complete with fake palm trees, hammocks, a cocktail bar, and plenty of lights to transport festival-goers off The Farm and to spring break. The beach was bumping with DJ sets throughout the weekend, and offered an excellent vantage point to watch shows at The Other without delving into the throng of ragey fans.

Scrims

The new scrims on The Which Stage.

The new scrims on The Which Stage.

All of the bigger stages with the exception of What also got a makeover. This, That, and The Other were all decked out with brightly-colored scrims, adding some decoration to the previously unadorned sets. Anyone who has been to Roo before would have noticed the more controversial absence of the distinct question mark that normally revolves at the top of Which, also replaced by abstract, pastel signage. I myself mourned the loss of the curtains and rotating question mark, and found the stage art to be a bit more cookie cutter than the vibe Bonnaroo is known for, but perhaps (likely) I’m just a sucker for tradition. 

The Weeknd 

The Sunday night slot of Bonnaroo is always saved for the biggest headliner, traditionally a well-entrenched, rock or jam band. Switching it up this year, the spot was given to The Weeknd, a younger R&B/pop star. The rumor mill offered suggestions that the switch was merely due to Bono’s schedule, as U2’s clout far exceeds that of The Weeknd’s, but it seems more likely that Bonnaroo was attempting to reach the younger crowd that normally dips out Sunday morning. The move certainly seemed to have paid off based on the strong crowd attendance Sunday night.

Chance

It would be hard to write about the festival this year without mentioning Chance the Rapper, the reigning “Mayor of Bonnaroo.” For the last few years, whether booked or not, Chance has made numerous appearances on collaborators’ stages across the festival. This year he appeared for Francis and the Lights, led a song at the super jam, and rocked his own set on What, a big upgrade from his last full-set performance in 2014, which was in a tent. The main venue was absolutely packed as Chance made his entrance on a mini-motorcycle, backlit by pillars of fire, and the crowd sang every word as he played hits off Coloring Book, a few favorites from Acid Rap, and other hits. 

U2

It seemed like everyone on The Farm was excited for U2’s second-ever festival performance; the band is currently on tour playing their entire Joshua Tree album front to back. Bono brought his own stage with him complete with gigantic screens and a wild light show, punctuated by the typical headliner fireworks that did not disappoint.

Big Freedia

A New Orleans legend known for her work in “bounce music,” Big Freedia and her team took over the Solar Stage to break down various twerk moves for those of us less fluid with our hips and bodies. During twerk class every morning, I watched the liberation of hundreds of people as Freedia taught them to to “mix it up,” “Peter Pan,” and “toot it up.” The brave were given the opportunity to show off their moves in a giant twerk circle where three people at a time were given the spotlight as Freedia and her crew yelled encouragement in the form of “overdrive” and “ass everywhere, ass, ass, everywhere!” If there’s one thing I learned from Bonnaroo this year, it’s that if you get the chance to go see Big Freedia, DO IT. 

Francis and the Lights

For someone who performed almost entirely by himself on a stage with no background graphics, Francis Farewell Starlite was truly captivating. His mesmerizing synths and big sound were matched by his uncontainable energy and erratic dance moves. Chance the Rapper joined Francis for their iconic choreography of “May I Have This Dance” to extreme fan stoke. And, as if the performance wasn’t already memorable enough, Francis jumped off the stage to run around in the crowd for a bit, and ended his set by doing a back handspring into a backflip that he landed in a split. Mic drop.

Beyond the Music 

In terms of activities, Bonnaroo is offering a lot more to do these days besides going to music. Out in tent city, a few of the pods have been decked out in various themes, offering places to hang out and things to do outside of Centeroo or your campsite. The coffee house and vinyl shop at Pod 7 (The Grind) were in peak form this year, as was the mystical hammock forest out behind it (The Grove). Other holistic programming met a broader audience than usual with record turnouts for things like morning yoga and the 5K run Saturday morning, demonstrating that Bonnaroo has definitely become a more accessible partner that doesn’t require a total departure from one’s daily routines. Activist-central Planet Roo also offers plenty to do and learn, in full-force this year as usual with booths for registering as a bone marrow donor, learning about sustainability, and making your voice heard on various issues.  

Mild weather!

Traditionally on The Farm, temps have left festival-goers feeling like they were melting into a pool of their own sweat that they very well might drown in. While last year brought temperatures that topped 100 (not to mention a thunderstorm evacuation), this year, was all moderate temps and clear skies with a festival high of 89. While at the end of the day, people were hardly less zapped for energy, some of the days were downright pleasant- words I have never used in the past to describe summer in Coffee County. 

Cage The Elephant.

Cage The Elephant.

As usual I lost count of how many bands mentioned it being a dream to play the festival, and of how many artists went right down to their fans and jumped into the crowd, whether it was Dave Bayley from Glass Animals crowd-surfing with a 200-foot microphone cord tether, Cage the Elephant frontman, Matt Shultz, diving into his fans, or Diplo rolling around in a giant hamster ball. The superjam was jammy and super and brought the funk. Fans stormed the venue at two o’clock on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to sprint as fast as they could across the field to get to the front rail for the headliners. The line for Amish donuts was insanely long, people walked around shouting “Happy Roo” to each other the same way people wish each other a Merry Christmas, and people covered themselves in just as much glitter as they did sunscreen. 

Bonnaroo.

Bonnaroo.

There may be details that change from year to year as this festival grows and evolves, but throughout my five trips to The Farm, I’ve noticed that the most important thing stays the same: the vibes. In the utopian world of The Farm, a land that is governed on the principles of good vibes and radiating positivity, and whose name literally means “only the good stuff,” there is no room for racism, travel bans, homophobia, or any of the other damaging ideals that we run into everywhere in the world “out there.” Without straying into the quicksand that is politics these days, I will say that this year was no exception to the typical blissful reprieve that Bonnaroo offers from the negativity and aggression associated with the news and watchful Big Brother’s eye- a reprieve that allows people to tune out the drone of society and to instead truly listen to their hearts. The world of Bonnaroo is a beautiful one, where people are free to truly express themselves and where strangers not only acknowledge strangers, but embrace them, help them, and share with them, always looking for common ground instead of reasons to fight.

As usual, by Sunday, I was ready for a real night of sleep and a break from the sun, but as also usual, I can’t wait to go back. Until next year, radiate positivity and stay true Roo. And as always: See you on The Farm! 

See the full Bonnaroo 2017 photo gallery here!

-Julia

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

Bonnaroo Music Festival Announces Official 2017 Lineup

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Manchester, TN's massive music festival announced their full lineup this morning for the June 8th-11th, 2017 fest. Headliners of Bonnaroo include U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Weeknd, and Chance The Rapper.

Peep the full lineup below; tickets here.

IMG_6884.JPG

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Indigenous Eco Hip-Hop Artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez Is Fighting for Climate Change & Releasing New Music

By: Claire Woodcock

In the spring I caught a short viral video, a NowThis compilation that summed up how 21 teen activists are suing the U.S. government for not doing enough to prevent climate change. The federal government filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed, but it was overruled in federal court. If the lawsuit passes, these meddling kids could really put limitations on how the government engages in fossil fuel projects. And that’s how I first came to hear of Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, the 16-year-old indigenous change agent at the of heart of the environmental movement.

“It takes a community to raise a child and I feel like that’s kind of the way that I was raised, you know? By my community. And that’s what has made my voice, that’s what has granted my voice access to reach a lot of people: because of the support I’ve had from community members and a lot of mentors, and a lot of people who have kind of helped guide me and given me support while at the same time letting me do my own thing [to] find out for myself what I want to do and who I want to be.” Martinez recently told me.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez of Earth Guardians.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez of Earth Guardians.

At age six, Martinez marked the beginning of his path into activism. He then discovered a passion for eco hip-hop three years later with the help of his siblings and the past generation of Earth Guardians, a Boulder-based nonprofit that use hip-hop as a tool to engage and share an action plan with the world. As youth director of the Earth Guardians, Martinez released Generation RYSE with his siblings in 2014. Its punchy production adds to the charm of its raps on climate change.

“I was 14 then; my voice was still figuring itself out. I mean the content was definitely more super-geared toward movement, like cause-related things. [My] new project gathers a lot of elements and things I’ve experienced over the last year that have helped shape me as a person as well as shaped my style of writing.”

Watch Xiuhtezcatl Martinez's "Indigenous Roots":

Martinez says the biggest difference between what he was doing then and what he’s doing now has a lot to do with age and maturity. The environmentalist is gearing up to release Break Free, which will mark his move into more serious eco hip-hop territory. The new EP is set to drop in November, and will explore the role that mental health plays in activism.

While Martinez's siblings will make appearances on at least half the tracks on Break Free, he’s been outsourcing much of the project himself. He’s brought a few of his producer friends into the mix, like up-and-coming singer/songwriter/rappers Tru and Raury. Martinez told me that other production inspiration came from artists like J Cole and Chance the Rapper, teasing during our phone interview about a possible collaboration with Chance. Martinez connected with the Chicago-based rapper at the 2015 Paris Climate Change Summit.

“I think bringing art is so important, because music more than anything brings people together. When I go marches or rallies or protests, a lot of time it's kind of a sterile environment. It needs, we need, the artists on board. We need the artists on the front lines.”

The recommendations from the landmark climate ruling last spring brought forth by Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and 20 other youth plaintiffs through an organization called Our Generation are currently under review by Judge Ann Aiken of Oregon. Aiken, who is expected to announce her decision on the ruling publicly in mid-November, will determine whether or not the case will go to trial or an appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

“If we win this lawsuit, it's going to force the federal government of the United States to massively reduce our carbon emissions every single year by regulating industry, by regulating our oil and fossil fuel consumption, and it's going to have a huge impact on the way that the world sees us as well.” Martinez said.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is on the front lines fighting for our future rights to clean air and water. Stay tuned for his Break Free EP in November, and keep up with this young and inspiring artist here.

-Claire

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Eryn Allen Kane: A Powerful Force in Soul and Beyond

By: Annie Kane

“Little light you've lost your glow, you just cry and no one knows
That love isn't your friend, your friends are gone
But I say, it's okay, it's okay…”

-“Slipping” by Eryn Allen Kane

These are the lyrics from the song that made me fall in love with the soulful powerhouse that is Eryn Allen Kane (no relation to the author). I had the chance recently to sit down with this artist at her recent Bluebird Denver show, and her strength as more than just a vocalist quickly became evident.

Eryn Allen Kane.

Eryn Allen Kane.

Hailing from Detroit, Kane now calls Chicago her home, after a move to study acting at Columbia College. It was there she realized her passion and knack for singing.

Listen to Eryn Allen Kane’s “Slipping”:

When prompted about the origins of “Slipping”, a tune that mixes heart-wrenching lyrics with an uplifting melody, Kane revealed that it’s about a close friend of hers; a beautiful and talented person who supposedly could not see this about himself, and withdrew into a deep and depressive hole.

“He latched onto me in a parasitic way,” Kane said, adding that her friend believed his only happiness could be found in her. Kane’s pursuits in trying to make him aware of his beauty led her to this song.

Drawing from the people around her is Kane’s common source of creative power.

“I just absorb from my surroundings,” she said.

That being said, she also lets her listeners choose their own interpretations for her music, saying, “People can interpret my meaning however they will”. It is through this symbiotic relationship between herself and her fans that Kane is able to delve into her own emotions and understand them better, and it’s also how her listeners are able to find empowerment through her work.

Eryn Allen Kane strongly believes in self-empowerment. Despite being surrounded by some of the top emerging artists right now, she wants to be recognized for her individuality and capabilities. Her latest releases, Aviary: Act I & II, were done mostly solo. Though she comes from an environment she describes as a place where women didn’t encourage each other to do things, Kane now strives to do just the opposite. In fact, the majority of her music is written and produced by females. “Women should really empower each other,” she told me.

Another current force of female artistry in the industry is Brittany Howard, lead singer of Alabama Shakes, who happens to be on the short list of Kane’s most admired artists. In fact, I could see her eyes brighten as she spoke about Howard to me, excitedly raving, “She’s mixed like me and screamin’ like me!”. Coincidentally, Kane actually helped bring Alabama Shakes to the limelight through her friendship with the late, world-renowned Prince. After Kane introduced the band’s music to Prince, he actually brought the group to Paisley Park, his own recording studio, rehearsal space, and performance venue. Prince was a vital part of Kane’s discovery of her own inner power, and at her Bluebird Denver show, she even dedicated her last song of the set to him.

Prince is not the only musical genius to recognize Kane’s gift. Back in Chicago, she has connected and collaborated with numerous notable artists.

“I met everyone organically,” Kane humbly remarked.

And by everyone, Kane has quite a list. She’s now collaborated with Towkio, Noname, Saba, and of course, the squad of the Social Experiment, which includes Chance the Rapper and Donnie Trumpet. One of her latest collaborations, “Reality Check”, was written and recorded the day before rapper Noname dropped her debut project, Telefone. Kane spoke of Fatima (aka Noname) admiringly saying, “She’s one of the smartest human beings I’ve ever met… she’s wise beyond her years… a true poet”.

Kane’s admiration for her Chicago family doesn’t end there. When asked about the possibility of a shift in the environment since Chance and Vic Mensa’s recent jumps to stardom this year, she answered with a response on how much both artists care for their city:

“The Kanyes and Commons just up and left,” she noted, whereas Chance and Vic are giving so much of their fame-derived power straight back to the city. Her closeness with Chance really came through in this part of our conversation when she smiled, “He’s a good dude to the core… [he’s] paving the way for everyone else”.

It’s reasons like these that Eryn Allen Kane appears on so many artists’ tracks. She doesn’t collaborate simply to get her name featured, but does it for the sake of art and friendship.

“I do it because they’re good people,” she told me.

Eryn Allen Kane is spritely and genuine. The love she emanates toward everyone is unavoidable, and her unfaltering belief in her own art, as well as others, is uplifting and liberating. Hopefully you had the chance to catch her at the Bluebird this week, but if you didn’t, peep her tour schedule and get to a show.

Listen to more Eryn Allen Kane’s work here.

-Annie

Connect with me on instagram and Twitter.

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

Five Arstists You Should See at Vertex Festival This Weekend

By: Annie Kane

Buena Vista’s inaugural music festival, Vertex, is bringing some huge acts to its majestic landscape.

Vertex Festival, presented by Madison House and AEG Live, is scheduled to bring a variety of big name artists from both blues rock (Alabama Shakes) to electronic (Odesza) genres to the recently rehabilitated ranch surrounded by 14ers in the mountain country of Buena Vista. But the killer lineup doesn’t end after the big names. Many of the smaller artists chosen that are placed on the third tier of the lineup still have huge musical credibility to their name, and most definitely should not be skipped over. Here are our top five must-see acts from that portion of the lineup:

Dawes

California-based rock band Dawes bring their approach to raw old-school touch to their sound. Their vintage feel is a result of recording their live sessions on an analog tape, and inspiration from one of the most classic bands of all time, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Their rich sound will echo beautifully Vertex’s grand venue.

Ryan Hemsworth

Ryan Hemsworth is an explorative DJ raised in Nova Scotia. Despite only releasing singles since his last album in 2014, Alone for the First Time, Hemsworth has been riding a wave of fame this year. With access to a computer, it is easy for most anyone to become a producer, but it is rare for someone to be able to truly create art from simple beats. Ryan Hemsworth has this talent. His sound mixes misplaced voices, sometimes even whispers, into deep, twinkly, and ecstatic beats to create something that is like Pop Rocks for your ears. His set will be filled with all sorts of good vibes.

Hiatus Kaiyote

Hiatus Kaiyote has dubbed their genre as “future soul”. One short listen, and you can tell that this self-identification is spot on. Nai Palm, the frontwoman of the band, has a full voice reminiscent of Amy Winehouse that when combined with drums, keyboards, and sci-fi space-like sounds creates something you’ve surely never heard before. They’ve collaborated with fellow Vertex artist, Anderson Paak, along with Q-Tip, and have opened for the revered Erykah Badu. Nai Palm tells the Wall Street Journal that their music isn’t “genre specific… If you have enough different influences, it becomes a hybrid of your own. The collective viewpoint defines us." Catch their box-breaking set on Sunday.

Big Wild

We caught up with Jackson Stell, the brains behind the name of Big Wild, while he toured through Denver earlier this summer. Read our interview with him here, and peep a recap video of his show at the Larimer Lounge here. Big Wild is a DJ worth seeing live. He does not sit behind a computer, press a spacebar and then continue to vibe out to his own music; rather, Stell switches between his laptop, drums, keyboards and even an acoustic drum set-up. East coast native and California transplant Stell mixes a variety of super fun sounds into his songs, along with remixing a variety of well known songs, such as “Show Me Love” by Hundred Waters feat. Chance the Rapper. Big Wild had everybody dancing at his show in Denver, and he’s guaranteed to make you move at Vertex too.

BadBadNotGood

Recent collaborator on Kaytranada’s latest album, BadBadNotGood has been making big waves in the hip-hop community despite being a jazz-focused ensemble. The group, consisting of Matthew Tavares (keyboards/synthesizer), Chester Hansen (bass) and Alexander Sowinski (drums), have already worked with Tyler, the Creator, Frank Ocean, Wu Tang’s Ghostface Killah and Mick Jenkins. Their shared love of jazz and hip-hop led them to reinterpret famous hip-hop songs, which has attracted the attention of big name artists. BadBadNotGood is one of those almost-underground voices that is driving an  innovative change in music. Check out their song with Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring, “Time Moves Slow”.

See the whole lineup for Vertex Music Festival here.

-Annie

Connect with me on twitter and instagram.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Pitchfork's Fantastic Finale Featured FKA Twigs, Miguel, Chance the Rapper, & More

By: Annie Kane

Day three of Pitchfork Music Festival began with raging thunderstorms in the early morning and ominous clouds lurking overhead for a good part of the day. But finally, the sky broke apart to reveal a shimmery sun and sticky humidity, just in time to rally Sunday’s festival goers with the day’s awesome lineup.

Nao.

Nao.

Not initially part of my agenda of acts to catch, East London singer Nao called me forth to her stage with her unique voice and poppin’ beats. Going barefoot in a bright floral romper, Nao commanded the crowd with her strong presence onstage. She was extremely comfortable in her performing abilities, moving gracefully between the mic and twirly dance moves. Her voice synced incredibly well with her deep, almost 90s-like beats. She even blew herself away, pausing occasionally between the songs to smile brightly and take it all in. Her ability to appeal to everyone in the crowd made her music that much more powerful, and there was even an adorable toddler standing on the barricades with her dad, looking up to Nao and dancing along to every song.

Empress Of.

Empress Of.

Next up was Honduran-American multi-talented electro-pop artist, Empress Of. Despite starting late, her crowd was immense as she stood on stage completely alone, navigating between the keys, drums and vocals. For being one person onstage multi-tasking between instruments, I was surprised by how much Empress Of was able to create a fun environment while keeping the audience engaged. Her music has many elements and layers to it, and each one incited major dance parties.

Jeremih.

Jeremih.

The day continued with Jeremih’s set. Jeremih is revered for having a large amount of radio hits, so every song he played had the crowd insanely hyped. Rumors and sightings of past Pitchfork headliner and Chicagoan, Chance the Rapper, stirred extra excitement in the crowd. When the DJ dropped the beginning of Chance’s “No Problem”, the crowd jammed themselves further to the front of the stage as the smiling rapper emerged. You could literally see a wave move through the audience as people moved closer to see this hometown hero. Jeremih and Chance riffed off of each other’s energy for a few of Chance’s songs, including “Angels”. Jeremih didn’t lose any energy when Chance left the stage; when he tried to jump into the crowd during “Oui”, he fell in-between two speakers and was caught by security guards. But that didn’t stop him; he ran right up to the crowd before being forced by security back around to the stage. Though the set was overall killer, he did close with Desiigner’s “Panda” instead of his own tunes, which was somewhat disappointing.

Miguel.

Miguel.

Miguel delivered an unbelievably beautiful set; his band had such a palpable energy that Miguel made every fan in the crowd fall in love with him over and over again. What impressed me more so than his crooning voice and sexy dance moves was what he said between his songs. Miguel was really the first artist at Pitchfork to truly address the turbulent times going on in the world right now. He urged people to stop posting pictures praying for other people, and to actually go out and do something to change the world:

“This is the kind of solidarity and unity we crave…this moment, is the most beautiful thing to be connected with you…let’s continue connecting, gathering gathering gathering, that’s the only thing that’s gonna heal all this separation…” he said.

Miguel then prompted the crowd to chant with their fists in the air, “We’re all that we’ve got”. The contrast between Jeremih’s all-hype set compared to Miguel’s multifaceted, multi-genre and celebration of love and unity was interesting to compare.

FKA Twigs.

FKA Twigs.

Finally, English singer FKA Twigs closed out Pitchfork for 2016. With a trained dance background and edgy style, she created the most captivating set of the whole weekend. FKA stayed in her zone while performing, and never once broke her set to talk to the crowd and show appreciation. There was one moment during a lull between songs where she simply stared out into the crowd, dressed in a shredded jean outfit with a feather through her nose. Despite trying to keep the mirage without breaking the fourth wall, I could see underneath her face that she was taking in the energy of the crowd to fuel her for the rest of the performance. One of the most creative artists currently in the industry, FKA did not disappoint. Her style is much like Björk in the way that she pushes beyond normalcy or trends. She was extremely cool to see live, and a was an incredible closer to a weekend filled with talent from across the globe.

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.

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.

BolderBeat Will Cover Pitchfork Music Festival This Weekend

By: Annie Kane

July 15th-17th Pitchfork will hold their annual, independently run music festival in Union Park on the West side of Chicago, and we’ve got some exclusive access coming your way.

Based in Chicago, Pitchfork is a cutting edge online music media source. Every year, they hold a music festival revered for attaining a wide variety of voices in the music industry, and they’ve been at it for 11 years now. In 2015, Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, and Wilco headlined. This year, we’re looking forward to a mix of music legends (i.e. Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys), and innovative new voices (i.e. FKA Twigs).

Held in the intimate venue of Union Park, Pitchfork Music Festival brings over 40 artists to its three stages set up between expansive shady trees. The festival draws a unique crowd as a result of its eclectic lineup. From synthy pop (see Empress Of) to jazz (Kamasi Washington) to hip house disco (check out Shamir), there’s something for everybody.

Checkout the lineup below, and stay tuned for further coverage from BolderBeat on the festival!

Friday

Beach House, Broken Social Scene, Carly Rae Jepsen, Shamir, Julia Holter, Twin Peaks, Mick Jenkins, Moses Sumney, Car Seat Headrest, The range, Whitney

Saturday

Sufjan Stevens, Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds, Blood Orange, Super Furry Animals, Digable Planets, Savages, ANDERSON .Paal & the Free Nationals, Holly Herndon, Jenny Hval, BJ the Chicago Kid, Martin Courtney, Kevin Morby, Royal Headache, Girl Band, Jlin, RP Boo, Circuit des Yeux

Sunday

FKA Twigs, Miguel, Jeremih, Neon Indian, Kamasi Washington, Holy Ghost!, Empress Of, Oneohtrix Point Never, Porches, Thundercat, Woods, The Hotelier, LUH., Sun Ra Arkestra, NAO

For more information on the festival and the artists in the lineup, visit Pitchfork Music Festival’s official website.

-Annie

Connect with me on twitter and instagram.

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

Snakehips Is Making Old New This Saturday at The Fox Theatre

We borrow from the past to make music for the future,” says James Carter, of the ever-rising musical duo, Snakehips. Drawing inspiration mainly from 90s hip-hop and R&B, the result is an undeniably individual sound. Diverting from the traditional model of remixes with a predictable build up and drop, Snakehips composes new songs from the old, much like how they reinvent old school music. Their infectious tracks have been stirring up the Twitter waves, with their songs reaching over one million plays.   

Watch Snakehips’ video for “All My Friends”:

James Carter met his partner in crime, Oliver Lee, while on a flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles. Upon returning to their home of London, they began synthesizing their ideas and dropped their first remix, of Chicago’s Wild Belle’s “It’s Too Late”. Their initial breakthrough came from their remix of Banks’ “Warm Water”. Using only original vocals thus far for their remixes, they caught the attention of The Weeknd and were asked to remix “Wanderlust”. Since then, they have amassed an impressive list of collaborators and supporters including Raury, Bondax, Flight Facilities, Sinead Harnett and Major Lazer, to name a few. Most notable and recent is their collaboration with Tinashe and Chance the Rapper on All My Friends. Tinashe’s smooth R&B vocals paired with Chance’s fire rhymes overlaid on the duo’s addictive beats stamps out their groundbreaking new genre. With a few original tracks on their hands, they are currently working on their debut album while also on their debut tour.

Snakehips plays The Fox Theatre this Saturday! Get your tickets to check out their show here.

Stream more Snakehips tracks.

-Annie

Connect with me on twitter and instagram.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited.