Sunday, May 27, 2018

Review: Police Activity Disrupts Day Two of BottleRock Napa Valley

Plus, white attendees say the N word during E-40's set.

by Azucena Rasilla
Sun, May 27, 2018 at 9:49 AM

The Killers closed out Saturday. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NISHA GULATI (LATITUDE 38 TEAM)
  • Photo courtesy of Nisha Gulati (Latitude 38 Team)
  • The Killers closed out Saturday.

Chaos briefly hit the second day of BottleRock Napa Valley, as police arrested an armed robbery suspect within the festival.

According to the Napa Police Department, dispatch received a 9-1-1 call of an armed robbery that occurred on Hagen Road, near Silverado Trail. Two suspects left in a Hyundai, a car chase ensued, and the suspects fled into the festival on foot. Police immediately arrested one suspect, but the second wasn't located.

The incident prompted a brief lockdown. Gates to the festival were closed as police searched for the second suspect.

Most attendees inside the festival were unaware of the activity. Others seemed more concerned with the inconvenience of a potential lockdown for security reasons, and less concerned with an armed individual potentially roaming inside the festival.

Still, most of BottleRock went off without delays. My goal for BottleRock day two was to find as many people of color as possible. Saturday was, after all, the most diverse as far as the lineup was concerned — Michael Franti, Snoop Dogg, E-40, and Natalia Lafourcade were all part of the bill.

My biggest disappointment on Saturday was the sight of a sea of white people singing along to E-40. I don’t doubt that there are folks who are legitimate fans of the Bay Area legend, but there’s something extremely uncomfortable about hearing rich white people say the N word like it is not a big deal. Have they not learned anything? Clearly not. Judging by the large crowd, festival-goers chose the music over the do-or-die Warriors game happening at the same time — except E-40 himself, who cut his set short by roughly 5 minutes, probably to catch the end of the game.

View from the Midway stage while E-40 was performing. - AZUCENA RASILLA
  • Azucena Rasilla
  • View from the Midway stage while E-40 was performing.

One highlight of BottleRock every year is the food and drink selection. I checked out the Hendrick’s Gin cocktail bar, which stayed busy with a variety of signature cocktails flowing. Hendrick’s was perfectly positioned next to the Williams-Sonoma culinary stage, which remained a popular hub throughout the day with appearances by Tre Cool of Green Day with Graham Elliot; E-40, Mike D with Adam Richman; and Snoop Dogg and Warren G with Michael Voltaggio, who won the Guinness World Record for the biggest paradise cocktail made live in front of the crowd.

Hendrick's cocktails, from left to right: ruby radler, sun god, bespoke G&T, and butterfly effect. - PHOTO BY MAYRA ALFARO MARTINEZ
  • Photo by Mayra Alfaro Martinez
  • Hendrick's cocktails, from left to right: ruby radler, sun god, bespoke G&T, and butterfly effect.

Snoop Dogg stirrring the biggest paradise cocktail in the world, according to the Guinness World Records. - PHOTO BY MAYRA ALFARO MARTINEZ
  • Photo by Mayra Alfaro Martinez
  • Snoop Dogg stirrring the biggest paradise cocktail in the world, according to the Guinness World Records.
E-40, Mike D, and Adam Richman at the culinary stage. - PHOTO BY AZUCENA RASILLA
  • Photo by Azucena Rasilla
  • E-40, Mike D, and Adam Richman at the culinary stage.

Las Vegas indie rockers, The Killers, closed out day two, with a massive number of people eager to see their performance up close. What can be said about The Killers that hasn’t been said before? They put on one hell of a live performance, and lead singer Brandon Flowers is aging like the most expensive and exquisite wine from the Miner family winery.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Review: On the Lack of Brown and Black Artists at Day One of BottleRock Napa Valley

Mike D's set was a nostalgic surprise.

by Azucena Rasilla
Sat, May 26, 2018 at 10:24 AM

  • Photo courtesy of Nisha Gulati (Latitude 38 Team)
  • Matt Bellamy of Muse.

I went to BottleRock Napa Valley lamenting the lack of Brown and Black artists. In the span of the three days, there’s a whopping two Latinx artists: Colombian band Bomba Estéreo and Mexican singer Natalia Lafourcade.

Let’s start with Bomba Estéreo. Non-Spanish speaker music lovers, do not sleep on this band from Bogotá Colombia led by Li Samuet and Simón Mejía.

The Colombian powerhouse played at the Miner Family Winery Stage, the same stage that two years ago saw Fantastic Negrito. Unlike him, Bomba Estéreo has yet to win a Grammy — perhaps their eclectic and energetic set at this year’s BottleRock is the good luck charm they need to finally win it.

  • Photo courtesy of Nisha Gulati (Latitude 38 Team)

What was surprising about their set was the lack of Brown people singing and dancing along to their lyrics. One thing is for sure, the rich folks who paid for VIP and Platinum tickets certainly enjoyed Samuet’s quick and fiery freestyling. Sure, they didn’t understand a single thing, but that’s the beauty of music: It’s universal, you feel it, even if you don’t understand it. Their Afro-pop, dubstep, freestyle, psychedelia, cumbia, and champeta (a genre of folk music from the coastal regions of Colombia) sound is contagious. Even if you’ve never heard of the band, chances are you have heard their song “Soy Yo” which was part of a 2016 Target commercial.
I walked away after their set was over with an overwhelming sense of pride to be Latinx.

As I made my way between stages, my second favorite moment of day was Mike D’s DJ set. If you grew up listening to Beastie Boys, the nostalgia was sure to take over seeing him on stage. It was partly amazing to see him rocking the stage on his own, although at the same time, it was also melancholic. The death of Adam Yauch in 2012 marked the end of the Beastie Boys — not seeing Ad-Rock and MCA on stage with Mike D felt slightly unnatural.

View from the Jam Cellars (main stage) - PHOTO COURTESY OF NISHA GULATI (LATITUDE 38 TEAM)
  • Photo courtesy of Nisha Gulati (Latitude 38 Team)
  • View from the Jam Cellars (main stage)

Muse closed day one, and from the aerial views of the main stage area, it seemed that more people chose to see overrated pop duo, The Chainsmokers over the English rock legends. Can someone explain to me why The Chainsmokers are famous?

We shall see what day two has in store. E-40 is on the bill, and I’m sure he’s hating that he won’t be able to attend game six of the Western Conference finals to root for his beloved Warriors.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Bay Area Rapper Antwon Faces Fallout from Sexual Assault Allegations

by Janelle Bitker
Mon, May 21, 2018 at 11:23 AM

Rumors are circling about Antwon, the San Jose rapper who got his start in Oakland's warehouse party scene. Anonymous posts on social media and Tumblr have accused Antwon of rape and abuse over the past several months, but what's spread the word of such allegations is the breakup of Secret Circle, the underground rap group consisting of Antwon, Lil Ugly Mane, and Wiki.

On Friday, Lil Ugly Mane announced on Instagram that Secret Circle was over. "My heart is broken," he wrote. "But I won't stand by and act like everything is okay. Im glad its [sic] all gonna be out in the open."

The next morning, Antwon responded on Twitter with a lengthy but vague statement. "I've run away from my problems and blamed them on other people but all along I didn't know the problem was me and my behavior," he wrote, citing recently going into rehab for drug and alcohol abuse, "so I can get rid of my old ways of manipulating people and situations."

Lil Ugly Mane took to Instagram again to call Antwon's apology "bullshit." He clarified that he made an unspecific statement earlier because he assumed Antwon would "be accountable for his actions. ... These aren't 'allegations' and 'accusations'. this is shit you did. Im sick of all this language. We aren't talking about late night miscommunications or buyers regret, we're talking about zero fucking consent. [sic]" (Read the full statement here.)

On Twitter, Wiki stated, "Ugly and I are hurt, yes. We poured 2 years into that project. But that doesn't even register on the scale of the hurt that the victim(s) must be feeling."

So far, no sexual assault survivors have gone public with details, and Antwon has yet to release another statement. 

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tame Impala, A$AP Rocky to Headline Treasure Island Music Festival in Oakland

by Janelle Bitker
Wed, May 16, 2018 at 12:19 PM

A$AP Rocky headlines the 2018 festival. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MR. IOZO
  • Photo courtesy of Mr. iozo
  • A$AP Rocky headlines the 2018 festival.

After yesterday's surprise announcement that Treasure Island Music Festival would, indeed, be returning this fall, and to a new location in West Oakland, the fest has now released the full lineup. As with past years, the lineup focuses on indie rock and electronic acts with a solid dose of hip-hop.

This year's headliners are Tame Impala, the psychedelic rock band that became a critical darling with their 2015 record, Currents, and A$AP Rocky, the star rapper who will be releasing his third album, TESTING, this year. Other notable acts include Santigold, Courtney Barnett, Hiatus Kaiyote, and Pusha T. The festival takes place Oct. 13-14 at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. Weekend tickets go on sale this Friday at noon.

Here's the full lineup:
Tame Impala
A$AP Rocky
Silk City (Diplo + Mark Ronson)
Lord Huron
Courtney Barnett
Pusha T
Sharon Van Etten
Cigarettes After Sex
Hiatus Kaiyote
Laff Trax (Toro y Moi + Nosaj Thing)
U.S. Girls
Moses Sumney
Alex Cameron
Polo & Pan
George Fitzgerald
Soccer Mommy
Gilligan Moss

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California Honeydrops' New 'Call It Home' Video Is Full of Love for the East Bay

by Janelle Bitker
Wed, May 16, 2018 at 12:00 PM

The Express is teaming up with hometown favorites the California Honeydrops to premiere their newest music video, "Call It Home." It's the lead track off their recently released double album, Call It Home: Vol. 1 & 2.

It's a sweet, smooth, very Honeydrops-y tune featuring singer Bonnie Raitt, and the video is full of love for the East Bay, even as it changes. (The new album, as a whole, deals with both the concept of home and the changing face of Oakland.) In the video, the band members return to their busking roots and stroll through the streets of North Oakland's Bushrod neighborhood, play basketball at Bushrod Park, perform outside the Ashby BART station, and devour pizza at Cheeseboard. Serene images of Lake Merritt, the Oakland hills, and other neighborhoods are juxtaposed against shots of homeless encampments.

In support of Call It Home, the California Honeydrops play the Fillmore in San Francisco on Saturday, May 19.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Treasure Island Music Festival Moves to Oakland

The festival will take place Oct. 13-14 at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park.

by Janelle Bitker
Tue, May 15, 2018 at 10:51 AM

Kamaiyah performed despite the rain at the last Treasure Island Music Festival. - MIKE MILLER/FILE PHOTO
  • Mike Miller/File Photo
  • Kamaiyah performed despite the rain at the last Treasure Island Music Festival.

After a yearlong hiatus, Treasure Island Music Festival announced today that it will return to the Bay Area at a new location: Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland.

The festival will take place Oct. 13-14, promising more indie jams, no overlapping sets, and a similar, laid-back vibe. What the new Oakland location allows is far more and easier transportation options, regardless of which side of the bridge you're coming from. Middle Harbor Shoreline Park sits along the water, with views of the San Francisco skyline, close to the West Oakland BART station. It successfully held the Blurry Vision music festival this past weekend.

The final Treasure Island Music Festival to be held on Treasure Island was the 10th edition back in 2016. The lineup suggested a blowout with headliners Ice Cube and Sigur Ros, but there were problems due to massive rainstorms and heavy winds. Multiple sets were cancelled, a woman was hit by a vending machine that blew over, and thousands of people left soon after arriving. At the time, it wasn't clear whether the festival would continue, in part because of scheduled development at the original site.

Stay tuned for the lineup announcement.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Photo Essay: On #510Day Our People Are Oakland

by Azucena Rasilla
Fri, May 11, 2018 at 12:15 PM

  • Photo by Azucena Rasilla

Recently, a video where a woman called the police on a Black family who was barbecuing at Lake Merritt went viral, and several local and national outlets published pieces on the outraging incident. While it is important to call awareness on such harassment of Oakland natives, it is even more crucial to highlight the ways in which longtime Oakland residents celebrate their time in The Town — barbecuing, listening to music, playing drums, riding bikes, and continuing the mundane activities they grew up with, long before newcomers were able to pinpoint Oakland on a map.

The banning of recreational activities around the lake is nothing new. Oakland natives have dealt with this for decades. In the past few years, it has gone from clashes with the police to the uncomfortable angry looks from new residents around the area who are oblivious to the #TownBiz culture that has prevailed despite confrontations with the law and the rapid wave of gentrification sweeping through Oakland. Now, instead of just dealing with the cops, Oakland natives are faced with angry confrontations at the hands of those disturbed and annoyed at what goes on at the lake on a sunny day.

#510Day is the one day of the year where Oakland natives reclaim the lake for a day of music, laugher, unity, and good times.

The Express was there to witness the hugs, handshakes, dancing, chatting, babies playing — while others basked in the sunny and breezy weather, ate good food, and sang along to classic tracks like Mistah Fab’s  “New Oakland” and Keak Da Sneak’s “Super Hyphy.”

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Review: LCD Soundsystem Returned to the Bay Area in Legendary Form

by Janelle Bitker
Sun, Apr 29, 2018 at 10:46 AM

James Murphy, fist stance. - JANELLE BITKER
  • Janelle Bitker
  • James Murphy, fist stance.

At this point, LCD Soundsystem has been back so long that seeing the stalwart band almost doesn’t feel special.


Despite LCD’s reunion tour in 2016 and the realization that the band, which famously and very publicly disappeared in 2011, was back together for real, there was still this mythical hum to the Greek Theatre last night before James Murphy and his crew took the stage. The crowd was full of new, young fans who fell in love with LCD’s brand of self-aware, neurotic dance rock after it was too late to see them live. And for years, those fans never thought they would. Alas, LCD’s fourth record, American Dream, came out in 2017, ensuring more years of touring. While they’ve hit San Francisco twice since the reunion, this marked their first appearance in the East Bay — on Friday, LCD Soundsystem kicked off the first of three nights in Berkeley. Tickets are still on sale for Sunday night’s show.

Saturday’s sold-out concert lived up to the legend of LCD Soundsystem. Opening with “You Wanted a Hit,” Murphy played up what the song demanded: a disengaged, bored frontman, pausing to drink a glass of chilled, white wine. If anyone in the audience was worried that this was what Murphy would be like all night, those concerns were squashed  quickly. The rhythm of “Get Innocuous!” got Murphy slamming his drum sticks — a mere chime in a rollicking chorus of percussion — while “Call the Police,” the first single off American Dream, saw him pacing in a tight circle as a theatrical conductor. There was a positively sassy rendition of “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” and at least one lengthy stretch of distortion and strobe light — a break for someone to grab Murphy another glass of wine.

“We’ve never played here before, but I really like it,” Murphy said briefly, looking up and down and around the amphitheater, which was bathed in glowing dots from LCD’s giant disco ball.

The band only played three tracks off the new record — “tonite” and “Emotional Haircut” in addition to “Call the Police” — much to the delight of longtime fans. LCD did a fine job weaving them into the set, though they felt like a clear cut below the rest of the evening’s chosen songs. I had hoped to see American Dream’s “How Do You Sleep,” the closest track the album has to an instantly quintessential moment, with its stark and striking propulsive beat and anthemic breakdown. Perhaps, at more than 9 minutes long, it felt like too much of a commitment, even with LCD’s nearly two-hour set.

The finale of “Dance Yrself Clean” and “All My Friends” set a perfectly toned cap on the evening, though my favorite moment was during the end of the main set — before what Murphy described as “the pee break” and lengthy encore — as Murphy leapt onto a crooked amp and turned toward his band. While the backdrop turned to a sky-like starry night, Murphy howled along to “Home” like a lone wolf — the radiant disco ball his moon. Then, Nancy Whang took over the mic for a show-stealing cover of Chic’s “I Want Your Love,” a true disco ditty from the 1970s, as Murphy skulked around in the shadows, laughing joyously, applauding, and sipping more white wine.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Review: In Berkeley, Fleet Foxes Delivered the Hits on 4/20

by Janelle Bitker
Sat, Apr 21, 2018 at 9:48 AM

Robin Pecknold in Berkeley. - JANELLE BITKER
  • Janelle Bitker
  • Robin Pecknold in Berkeley.

Four horn players summoned the start to the grand return of Fleet Foxes last night at the Greek Theatre — the band’s first East Bay show since its six-year hiatus came to a close with 2017’s Crack-Up.

Wordlessly, the indie folk band launched into the album’s shape-shifting, meandering six-minute opener, "I Am All That I Need/Arroyo Seco/Thumbprint Scar." It represents the new record well: at once introspective and expansive; complex, cinematic, and compelling. Before writing it, Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold withdrew from the public eye and enrolled at Columbia University following the departure of Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman, now the famously flamboyant and sarcastic Father John Misty. It received wide and deserved critical acclaim.

Still, most Fleet Foxes fans were converted back in 2008 with the band’s hit self-titled debut. Despite the new work's remarkable instrumentation — dancing flute, bowed guitar, somber cello — and unusual, proggy song structures, it was easy to sense that the audience cared significantly less about Crack-Up than the band’s earlier, melodic sing-alongs.

So, Fleet Foxes played the hits. The bulk of the band’s lengthy, one hour-and-45 minute set stemmed from Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues, and even the group’s first EP, Sun Giant. After the band kicked off the set with a series of tracks off Crack-Up, Pecknold paused to praise the setting: "This is the most beautiful theater in the most beautiful part of the most beautiful country," he said. Then, someone in the crowd asked what kind of tea he was sipping during breaks. "Who said it was tea? How high is everybody? We didn’t even need to bring the smoke machines today," he laughed.

Indeed, a thick cloud already rested over the theater from folks celebrating 4/20.

Quickly, Fleet Foxes jumped into the harmony-rich pop ditty "Ragged Wood," and the crowd erupted in joy, and that set the tone for the evening.

Toward the end of the set, though, Fleet Foxes returned to Crack-Up and all its frantic trombone, jazzy breakdowns, and drama — so much so that the last moments finished quietly, feeling slightly anticlimactic. That was fixed, though, when the band came back for a hit-filled encore, including two songs that saw Pecknold playing solo, allowing his powerful vocals to envelop the whole venue. The first number, "Meadowlarks" from Fleet Foxes, was a special request from a fan in the audience who had apparently gotten out of brain surgery four days prior but still came out to the show. Pecknold said he had only played the song "like, once" live before, and apologized, but as with the rest of the set, he performed it beautifully.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

An East Bay Guide to Record Store Day

by Madeline Wells
Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 3:27 PM

Stacks on stacks at 1-2-3-4 Go! Records. - PHOTO COURTESY OF 1-2-3-4 GO! RECORDS VIA FACEBOOK
  • Photo courtesy of 1-2-3-4 Go! Records via Facebook
  • Stacks on stacks at 1-2-3-4 Go! Records.

Record Store Day, the love child of independent record store owners and employees across the globe, was born 10 years ago. This year, there are participating stores in every continent except Antarctica. Fortunately, we live in the East Bay, not Antarctica. This Saturday, April 21, kiss your Spotify account goodbye and go patronize the music you love the good old-fashioned way. Brick-and-mortar music stores across Oakland, Berkeley, and the greater East Bay will have treasure troves of limited-quantity releases and in-store performances worth fighting the crowds for. Here’s our guide to the most promising places to polish up your record collection.

1-2-3-4 Go! Records

1-2-3-4 Go is getting any early start at 8 a.m. on Saturday. If you’re dedicated, the first person in line gets five minutes in the shop alone, and the first 100 people in line get entered in a raffle for a $100 gift certificate. Rose-tinted guitar pop band Supercrush from Seattle will play at 3 p.m., and if you’re feeling peckish, Tacos Oscar and Aburaya Japanese Fried Chicken will serve up food outside.

420 40th St., No. 5; Oakland; 510-985-0325;

Amoeba Music Berkeley

Hit up Amoeba’s immense Berkeley location for literally hundreds of limited releases. Also, the shop will stay open until 10 p.m., with sales on DVDs, turntables, posters, and mugs. But best of all: Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards is playing a DJ set. Catch her at noon, then Yuno at 2 p.m., Jonah Nice at 3 p.m., DJ Inti at 4 p.m., and Platurn at 5 p.m.

2455 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-549-1125,

Econo Jam Records

Expect crates full of used gems, from jazz to punk to soul. Econo Jam will also have tons of Record Store Day releases, along with their own special, limited release of Tara King th.’s Stellar Fantasies LP. Live DJs will include DJ EarthQuake, DJ Fail, Doc Toro, DJ E-TomO Jam, and DJ Gucci Name. Free coffee and donuts will be available for early birds when they open at 8 a.m.

2519 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-465-2559,

Strictly Vinyl Records

Co-hosting with The 45 Sessions, Strictly Vinyl will have DJs spinning throughout the day, special deals, and, of course, sweet records for sale. Come early when they open at 10 a.m.

1060 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-679-5040,

The Fireside Lounge

It’s not a record store, but Fireside Lounge is hosting a “Swap&Sale” event from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. featuring DJ Tanoa “Samoa Boy” and guests. Get your swap and your drink on with $20 all-you-can-drink greyhounds, mimosas, and Bloody Marys. If you don’t have
any records to trade, Record Gallery is open next door with all the Record Store Day deals your heart desires.

1453 Webster St., Alameda, 510-864-1244,

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