Stay tuned for the latest updates for 2015 music festivals.
All photos by Leopold Ruiz
The weekend before Labor Day, the second annual First City Festival took place at the Monterey Fairgrounds in Monterey, California. The line-up included headliners like Beck, The National, Phantogram, Geographer, as well as performances from a bunch of other mostly indie rock artists including Cults, Best Coast, Liars, Tokyo Police Club, Lo-Fang, Sleepy Sun, Dale Earnhart Jr. Jr., Liars, and many others.
This weekend the second annual First City Festival in Monterey will kick off at the Monterey Fairgrounds, the location of what is largely considered the first major rock music festival in the U.S. – 1967′s Monterey Pop Festival. It’s also the fest where Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin first became international pop stars.
This year’s festival line-up, like last year’s, is packed solid with popular and talented artists and bands, including Beck, The National, Phantogram, Blind Pilot, Cults, Dawes, Liars, Geographer, Tokyo Police Club, Best Coast, Miniature Tigers, Future Islands, Cocorosie, Midlake, Lo-Fang, Sleepy Sun, The Naked & Famous, The Men, Cool Ghouls, among others.
The array of artists is guaranteed to attract a diverse crowd of music lovers seeking indie rock, alternative, folk, pop, techo, and dance. The fairgrounds are comprised of four stages with two large stages at opposite ends of the venue, where the headlining artists will be performing, during which time the smaller third and fourth stages will remain silent so that there is no overlapping.
The festival grounds offer a big benefit that music fans won’t find at any other music festival that we know – an authentic, full-fledged carnival that harkens back to yesteryear, featuring classic canrinval rides like the Zipper and The Scooter, specialty amusement rides like the Haunted House and Mardi Gras, a huge ferris wheel and the Fun Slide. Festival goers have full access to the existing carnival grounds, entertainment, food vendors and of course the rides. This year, festival ticket holders have access to unlimited free rides.
The premiere of the First City Festival last summer was considered a resounding success for the debut of a little-known festival thanks in part to performances from big acts like Passion Pit, MGMT, Beach House, Modest Mouse, Neko Case, and Toro Y Moi.
The two-day music spectacular featured a continuous stream of talented and popular acts that read like a who’s who of alternative and indie rock, folk and pop artists and bands, including The Black Angles, Washed Out, Okkervil River, Dr. Dog, Deerhunter, The Dodos, Akron/Family, The Antlers, Generationals, Purity Ring, Lucero, Devendra Banhart, Capital Cities, Father John Misty, Blitzen Trapper, The Hold Steady, Ernest Greene, Tennis, Guards and many others.
Compared to the much larger and well-known music festival in San Francisco, the Outside Lands Festival that took place earlier in the month, First City is a smaller, more intimate and less chaotic affair, and it is also a much more decidely indie and alternative music festival than Outside Lands as well. The event is organized and managed by Golden Voice productions.
Modest Mouse, Passion Pit, MGMT, Beach House and Other Artists Headline the First Annual ‘First City Festival’ in Monterey
Tens of thousands of festival goers were treated to an impressive list of indie and alternative rock artists and bands this past weekend at the first annual First City Festival in Monterey, California. The fest, featuring headliners like Modest Mouse, Washed Out, Passion Pit, MGMT, Beach House, Purity Ring, among others, drew large crowds each day of the two-day music festival held in the idyllic location of the Monterey Fairgrounds, where large grassy open spaces are shaded by groves of beautiful cypress trees and graced by fresh ocean air from the nearby Monterey Bay. It’s a perfect location for a mini-festival. In addition to three stages, there was also a vaudeville stage that drew crowds throughout the course of the festival. Plus, there were food and drink vendors, booths, charging stations, and even games and rides available at the adjoining carnival grounds.
Listen to the full playlist of songs from Day One artists via Spotify
Indie rock legends Modest Mouse closed the festival with a one and half hour set on Sunday night that included a bunch of their newer material mixed with some of their older, and more well-known, material, including highlighted tracks from the band’s mesmerizing 2000 album, The Moon and Antarctica. The band performed excellent live renditions of “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” and “I Came As A Rat.” They also crunched out classic indie rock songs like “Dramamine” (which we included on our First City Spotify playlists) and “Float On.”
While the band played brilliantly through old and new material, things didn’t go so well when Mouse’s vocalist and guitarist Issac Brock tried to instruct the crowd to hold their breath for four seconds. When that odd request failed, Brock made even a stranger one, asking the crowd instead to boo loudly and spit on each other. Thankfully, that failed as well. That confused people, but the band’s set was so good that it didn’t matter one bit at the end of their set. Modest Mouse was the perfect band to close out a spectacular weekend featuring some of the biggest artists of indie music, from the pioneers, like Modest Mouse, to artists that have become so popular that they’re now pretty much mainstream, like Passion Pit and MGMT.
Prior to Modest Mouse, who performed at the main Redwood stage, was a performance on the Cypress stage (located at the opposite end of the grounds) by Purity Ring. We opted to juggle sets from Deerhunter, who performed a remarkably buzzy set with excellent jams (perhaps to honor the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival at the same location, a festival that was the first major and heavily promoted rock festival in the United States) that blazed through the sky like the changing light and colors of the setting sun. Deerhunter were one of our favorite sets of the day.
In order to catch all of Deerhunter’s set, a festival goer who was not staying for the set up and performance of Purity Ring, had no choice but to miss some of Neko Case’s set. Case was essentially the opening artist for Modest Mouse, put on a predictably tight performance, selecting a range of songs from the band’s discography.
Earlier on Day Two, was a full afternoon’s worth of talented artists, including Toro Y Moi, Lucero, Devendra Banhart, Dr. Dog, Capital Cities, Antlers, The Dodos, Generationals, Avery Tare’s Slasher Ficks, Akron/Family, Seventeen Evergreen, Bleached, among others. That’s the kind of line-up we’re used to seeing at the bigger, already established and popular festivals like Coachella, ACL and Bonaroo.
Listen to more Day Two artists via IRC’s Spotify playlist
With all of those terrific bands performing one after another all afternoon, it’s hard to totally comprehend that the day’s headliners, which always draw the largest crowds, had yet to perform. As the sun began to dip little by little in the other direction, the number of Passion Pit and MGMT hipsters were increasing by the boat loads. It’s easy to conclude that many came to the festival just for one or two artists. And while the success of Passion Pit and MGMT grew out of the indie underground buzz, they are now clearly more mainstream than just a popular indie buzz band.
For example, in just the first few notes MGMT played of their popular song “Time to Pretend,” the enormous crowd roared with overwhelming approval as big crowds periodically do in the first few notes of wildly popular song. Again, a consistent theme we noticed about First City, the sound is amazing as far as outdoor festivals go. While MGMT delivered a good show, it wasn’t their best as one writer, Jody Amable, reported for a Bay Area blog called Bay Bridged. She wrote that MGMT: “rolled out the same old show they’ve been doing for years, featuring a whole lot of trippy visuals in retina-melting shades of neon to go with their brand of feathers-and-face-paint electro pop,” and while psychedelic visuals are a ‘time honored tradition’ for rock that originated in the Bay Area to begin with (and MGMT is a San Francisco band), the visuals were “starting to upstage them [MGMT] a little bit.” It’s true that the visuals aspect of the set was old hat, but the main annoyance was the temporary blinding effect and disorientation caused by overly contrasted and brightened visuals that flashed on and off repeatedly.
If you were trying to take photos from a few rows or more from the stage with a phone camera, chances are you got little else but big, blinding splashes of neon colors across the picture. Maybe that’s why they did it. Maybe it’s a secret government brainwashing mechanism. No, but seriously, tone it down guys. Or maybe it goes so well with MGMT’s hipster image and fan base that it’s purposely made to be way over the top.
By the time the closing act for Day One, Passion Pit, came on, the arena was packed with tens of thousands of people crammed into the fairground’s dusty Redwood stage area (which is built more for rodeos than music concerts). Passion Pit topped off the first day of what was an amazing afternoon and evening (11 hours total) of music. The band played with the quality of performance one would expect from such an accomplished band that started out DIY, went indie and are now admired by millions of young people around the world.
First City’s inaugural would have been solid even if all of the artists scheduled for Day One were spread out over two days. Yet, there was still another blockbuster day of performances from excellent bands still to come.
As we noticed all weekend, the sound at First City was spectacular, and there are likely a number of variables for that – one of course being the size of the grounds and the stage areas – relatively small compared to bigger festivals with a line-up the caliber of First City’s. Often times, a new festival can’t get dozens of popular indie bands booked for a variety of reasons. There are few debut music festivals that have a powerful lineup like First City did. We’re already curious about what they have in the works right now for 2014. First City is also a music festival that was clearly designed for indie rock fans. However, the festival’s name is attributed to the fact that Monterey was the first capital of California.
In the few reviews of the festival, there is not much emphasis placed on the sound quality. Sure, there is plenty of cred to the sound engineers – that’s a given. But the relatively small area, compared to Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park, keeps the sound contained and the number of trees and mostly wooden structures in and around the fair grounds absolutely help to provide a better, fuller sound inside that space. Now we can see part of the reason why Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Janis Joplin all became famous directly as a result of their performances at Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967. The sound, even with the little sound quality technology that existed at the time, must have been incredible.
To that point, there is the once best-selling official soundtrack from Monterey Pop as well as the film by the same name. See our preview of First City that includes an embedded video of rare concert bonus footage that was not released on the official film (no idea who posted it, but YouTube could remove it at anytime).
While there is some tweaking to do here and there, for the debut of a new festival, the organizers, Golden Voice, did a spectacular job, and they also brought a major rock festival back to the place where they were born nearly a half century ago. Plus, it’s simply a terrific spot to have a music festival for the ambience, ease of parking, fresh ocean air, moderate temps, and definitely for the acoustics. During his Father John Misty set, Tillman even commented to the crowd that there was something wrong with anyone who didn’t think it was an ideal place for a music festival.
The Monterey Fairgrounds has been home to the world famous Monterey Jazz Festival for the past 55 years. In fact, from September 20th to September 22nd, three weeks from now, the Monterey Jazz Festival will celebrate is 56th year, further solidifying its place in music history as one of the world’s oldest and continuously running music festivals.
First City will most certainly return next year based on the feedback we’ve been hearing, and a number of artists who openly praised the festival to the audience during their sets. Although the festival did not sell out of tickets by the time the gates opened on Saturday at 11 am., the crowds we saw, particularly at the Redwood stage for the top headliners, certainly seemed to be in the tens of thousands. Monterey Pop had 55,000 in attendance. From looking at the crowds in different locations throughout the two days, we’d say it was closer to 55,000 than not. The most striking similarity we could see to Monterey Pop 46 years ago was the attire. As was the case at Outside Lands just a few weeks ago, there were thousands of teenage girls and young adult women dressed in hippie-style attire, from dresses and flowery head bands to ripped jeans and colorful blouses and even polyester. For anyone who has seen many images over the years of the attire of the real hippies from the actual original time period, seeing all the hipsters as if they walked off a 1969 photograph, was trippy, mostly because it was so right on, right down to the straight, long hair and minimal facial make up.
If you’re already thinking about festivals to attend next summer in California, follow news during the coming winter and spring about First City via their mailing list. Plus, if you’ve never been to the San Francisco Bay Area (Monterey is part of the central coast region, some 110 miles south of San Francisco), and you have the ability to do so, it’s strongly recommended to spend a few extra days to see San Francisco and other amazing places in the Bay Area and central coast, including Monterey’s famous Aquarium, the 17 Mile Drive, the redwoods, and the Golden Gate Bridge, to name a few. If luck has it, the second annual First City will occur the weekend following, or proceeding, San Francisco’s hugely popular Outside Lands Festival. That’ll make it possible for visitors to California, who also love music festivals, to attend both fests. Bundling for vacations is always a good idea, and if this year is any indication, attending First City in 2014 should be high on the list for indie rock fans.
First City Festival Premieres Next Weekend in Monterey with Modest Mouse, Beach House, Passion Pit, MGMT, Toro Y Moi, Deerhunter
Powerhouse indie rock artists such as Modest Mouse, Passion Pit, MGMT, Beach House, Toro Y Moi, Devendra Banhart and Neko Case will headline the inaugural of the First City Festival in Monterey, California next weekend, August 24-25th. Dozens of other popular artists and bands, including Deerhunter, Washed Out, Okkervil River, The Hold Steady, Father John Misty, Dr. Dog, and The Dodos, are scheduled to perform at the premiere two-day music festival.
With the blockbuster success of the Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival last weekend in San Francisco, fest fever is running high, and for many music lovers in northern California, and beyond (especially those who were unable to attend the sold out Outside Lands), First City is a fest not to be missed.
While its location on the beautiful coast of Monterey Bay is idyllic, the main draw of First City is the amazing lineup. Altogether, there are more than 30 top-notch artists and bands scheduled to perform on three stages from noon to 11 pm Saturday and Sunday. They include, in addition to the already mentioned headliners, Georgian electro artist Ernest Greene, better known by the stage name, Washed Out; Austin’s homespun sons, Okkervil River; Brooklyn indie rockers The Hold Steady; Texas psychedelic rockers The Black Angels; famous songwriter and instrumentalist J. Tillman‘s (Fleet Foxes) newest project, featuring the moniker, Father John Misty; Portland experimental country/folk band Blitzen Trapper; plus, Civil Twilight, Delta Rae, Tennis, Quadron, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Guards, and Guy Blakeslee. That’s just on Day One.
View the full schedules, and create a custom schedule, for Day One and Two.
Listen to the full playlist of songs from Day One artists via Spotify
Day Two Lineup and Schedule for First City
On Day Two, in addition to top headliners Modest Mouse, Neko Case, Toro Y Moi and Devendra Banhart, artists and bands set for Sunday include Brooklyn psychedelic band Deerhunter; Candanian electro duo and Juno Award nominee Purity Ring; Philadelphia indie rockers Dr. Dog; New Orleans rockers Generationals; Los Angeles indie pop duo Capital Cities; Memphis country-punk rock band Lucero; Brooklyn indie rockers The Antlers; Portland experimental folk outfit Akron/Family; San Francisco indie rock duo The Dodos; as well as Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, Bleached, Seventeen Evergreen, Electric Guest, and Light Fantastic.
Listen to more Day Two artists via IRC’s Spotify playlist
First City is a festival tailor-made for indie rock fans. With a line-up that rivals any two-day festival in the U.S. this year, the cost of admission, in our opinion, is well worth it, especially for avid indie rock fans. How many opportunities does any music lover get to see this many fantastic bands all in one place over a two-day, 22-hour music marathon?
Last week, festival organizers, Golden Voice, announced a number of after parties that include a DJ set from Passion Pit on Saturday night at the Blue Fin in historic Cannery Row. Also on Saturday evening The Hold Steady will perform a show with Eli “Paperboy” Reed at Planet Gemini, located across the street from the Fairgrounds. Get tickets for Passion Pit or The Hold Steady; as with the festival two-day passes and single day passes, there are no added fees. Carnival rides and games will also be available, which can be purchased via the official First City website.
First City is the latest of a number of major music festival to premiere northern California in recent years. With the success of the Outside Lands and Treasure Island music festivals in San Francisco, it sure seems very likely that First City will be as well.
The picturesque seaside town of Monterey, located some 120 miles south of San Francisco, was made famous around the world as the inspiration for many of John Steinbeck’s historic novels, for the magnificent Monterey Aquarium, and for the beautiful Pebble Beach golf course.
In the arena of music, the coastal city is widely known as the location of the annual Monterey Jazz Festival, one of the longest continuously-running music festivals in the world. But it is best known in the history of rock for the Monterey Pop Festival (June 16-18, 1967), the first major outdoor rock festival in the United States. Some of the greatest rock and roll artists of all time – Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and The Who – received their first major exposure to America at Monterey Pop.
With the subsequent film and album, and press and radio air play, the now iconic artists became international rock super stars as a result of their appearances at Monterey Pop. The festival is also widely credited as a pivotal moment of the “Summer of Love” in 1967. Monterey Pop attracted 55,000 festival goers at the Monterey Fairgrounds, the same spot First City will kick-off it’s debut on August 24 and 25th.
Watch the Monterey Pop Festival, as well as bonus performances (of nearly two hours long), and various shorter performance videos via YouTube, including Jimi Hendrix’s historic performance when he burned and smashed his guitar.
The name for the First City Festival comes from the fact that Monterey was the first capital, or ‘first city,’ of California before it was moved to Sacramento.
2013 BFD Live 105 Sunday at the Shoreline in Mt. View – Passion Pit, 30 Seconds to Mars, Awolnation, Diplo, Of Monsters and Men
Tomorrow the BFD LIve 105 mini-music fest gets underway at the Shoreline Ampitheatre in Mt. View, California. This year’s line-up features bands like 30 Seconds to Mars, Passion Pit, Of Monsters and Men, Silversun Pickups, Wavves, The Airborne Toxic Event, Atlas Genius, Capital Cities, Diplo, The Crystal Method, DJ Shadow, Fits and the Tantrums and many others. The Shoreline is located adjacent to Google headquarters, aka, the GooglePlex. Check out our BFD 2013 Spotify playlist below or click here to open it in Spotify.
Thirty Seconds to Mars
Bud Festival Stage
Jimmy Eat World
Soundcheck Local Band Stage – Tumbleweed Wanderers, Picture Atlantic, Finish Ticket, Anya & The Get Down, Mister Loveless, Doe Eye, The Trims, Rin Tin Tiger, and Bonnie and the Bang Bang.
2013 Coachella Music Festival Kicks Off Today; Coachella Playlist and Live YouTube Webcast from Indio
The 2013 music festival season gets under way in just a few hours with the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California. While last month’s South By Southwest in Austin is the biggest musical event each year in sheer numbers, it is not a musical festival per se.
Coachella is considered the crown jewel of the big outdoor music festivals in the U.S., followed by Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, and Sasquatch. Over the past five years, as the popularity of music festivals has soared, spawning many new festivals (including Outside Lands in San Francisco) Coachella marks the beginning of the outdoor music festival season.
As of 7 a.m. Friday morning, thousands are streaming into the camp grounds and parking lots for this weekend’s big music and arts party in the middle of the southern California desert east of San Diego and just down the road from the Palm Springs city limits. Over the past few years, Coachella has become so big, and the demand for tickets so overwhelming, that organizers from Golden Voice Productions added a second weekend starting in 2012. That move was a huge success that organizers announced within weeks of last year’s event that there would be two weekend festivals for 2013 as well. If you’re going to Coachella for the first time, either this weekend, or next weekend, it is strongly advised to read the rules about passes, will call, wristbands, vehicles, camping and parking. Over the years, we’ve heard plenty of unfortunate stories about people not being able get in to the campgrounds or the festival grounds themselves. For example, if you purchase a pass from a third party source (like online ‘ticketing’ sites) or scalpers, you won’t get in.
If you’re one of the millions that wish they could go to Coachella this year, but can’t, the next best thing is available – Coachella Live on YouTube!
View ENTV‘s analysis of the Coachella 2013 headliners announcement, with coverage of Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Blur, The Postal Service, Wu-Tang Clan, Phoenix and also Fuse TV‘s review of the Coachella lineup for 2013.
In celebration of Coachella 2013, IRC has put together a special and extensive Coachella 2013 Headliners Spotify Playlist of headliners. The embedded playlist below features many of the other great bands playing this weekend.
The opening day of Coachella 2013, today, Friday, April 12th (and April 17th), includes headliners like Blur, The Stone Roses, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Modest Mouse, Lou Reed, Jurassic 5, Grinderman, as well as artists like Bassnectar, Dog Blood, How to Destroy Angels, Passion Pit, Tegan and Sara, Band of Horses, Beach House, Metric, Local Natives, Of Monsters and Men, Japandroids, Divine Fits, Stars, Johnny Marr, and Alt-J, to name just a few.
For Saturday, April 13th (and April 20th), headliners include Phoenix, the XX, the Postal Service, Sigur Ros, New Order, Hot Chip, Grizzly Bear, along with secondary acts like Knife Party, Two Door Cinema Club, Moby, Descendents, Yeasayer, Franz Ferdinand, Violent Femmes, Portugal, the Man, Bat for Lashes, Richie Hawtin, Major Lazer, Fedde Le Grand, Dropkick Murphys, FOALS, and many others.
For Sunday, April 14th (and April 21st), headliners include Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Vampire Weekend, Social Distortion, Wu-Tang Clan, and non-headliners like Pretty Lights, Tame Impala, the Lumineers, Dead Can Dance, La Roux, James Blake, Excision Grimes, the Gaslight Anthem, the Faint, Hardwell, Paul Oakenfold, Dinosaur Jr., OMD, Airborne Toxic Event, Father John Misty, Tanlines, Rodriguez, Mimosa, Cloud Nothings, and many, many more.
View the entire lineup by clicking on the official 2013 Coachella poster
Treasure Island Music Festival 2012 Celebrates Anniversary with Girl Talk, Toro Y Moi, Matthew Dear, Public Enemy, SBTRKT
Cloudy, rainy weather in the San Francisco Bay Area earlier last week cleared out just in time for the 5th Annual Treasure Island Music Festival. Under radiant, blue skies, and basking in the warm, golden sunshine, thousands of T.I. festival goers were treated to electrifying performances from artists like Grimes, Toro Y Moi, Matthew Dear, Pubic Enemy, The Coup, Dirty Ghosts, and many others. By the time the sun set in a blaze of firey orange, red and yellow, the festival ground lights came on, the Ferris Wheel was lighted up and people put on sweaters, hoodies and jackets.
The following is a collection of photographs from Day One by Ryan Holmes, a freelance photographer based in San Francisco. He also shot Twin Shadow for IRC back in August. His personal website is Sixteenth & Broadway. The following photos feature Toro Y Moi, Matthew Dear, Public Enemy, Tycho, SBTRKT, Girl Talk and audience shots.
Day Two of Treasure Island Festival also featured a top-notch line-up hosted a string of bands like Ty Segall, The xx, Los Campesinos, Best Coast, Gossip, Divine Fits and M83, among others. Interestingly, many of these bands have been featured in recent posts. In fact, Ty Segall just released one of the best albums of this year last week. The xx‘s new single was the No. 2 single of the month of September on IRC, beat out, only by The Raveonettes’ No. 1 single, as determined by IRC listeners. Listen to that track and others via the Top Ten Songs for September 2012 article and playlist. Divine Fits, an IRC breakout band of 2012, released their debut album in August, and took the No. 1 slot for the last week of August in the Top Ten Songs Playlists for August 2012 post, with their new power-pop single, “Would That Not Be Nice”.
“By Your Hand” – Los Campesinos! from Hello Sadness
Kudos to Press Here Publicity and Another Planet for organizing and managing the two-day event so well, and to all of the workers as well. Over the past five years, TIMF has progressed from a start-up fest to now being one of the premiere West Coast music festivals, along with Outside Lands, both of which had their debut in 2008.
Brief History of Treasure Island
Treasure Island is a relatively small, man-made island in the northeastern area of the San Francisco Bay and accessible via the Bay Bridge and ferries. For many years, the island was a strategic military base that really began to develop after hosting the 1935 World’s Fair, but mainly because of World War II and Cold War era military installment. However, in the past 15 years, the military has all but left Treasure Island, and the island has transformed into a mix of businesses, residential neighborhoods, recreation and tourism.