Maddy Cristall

Nils Frahm at the Imperial

Photo Credit- Riel McGuire

Photo by Riel McGuire

In the world of live music there are shows that fulfill a certain temporary void and choreograph exciting evenings accompanied with the sound of clanking glasses and shouting fanatics. Then there are concerts in which various fans buy tickets far ahead of time, go to a place they usually don’t and watch a 2-3 hour exhibit of why they are fans of this artist. Then there are sonic experiences that alter your senses and rearrange your mind so powerfully that you walk out with a completely different perception of the world-this is the kind of performance Nils Frahm achieved.
In the sprit of Friday night I arrived to the concert with an insatiable appetite for cocktails, dancing and shooting the breeze with fellow Frahm lovers. I walked in with a booming sprit and reckless tone of voice that was immediately tamed by the packed room all stunned and silent by what was in front of them. It was like walking into a womb of the genius world this man has created. Nobody was speaking, taking photos or even really moving-it was as if we had all been tranquilized and were now part of a ceremonial venture in praise of a new religion that comes with a gorgeous soundtrack.
The man is a maddened supernova, he seems possessed by the 18th century yet integrates a contemporary flare to his music that seeps out of his body. It’s as if a melodic apparition rattles through his veins and he needs to execute this force before he explodes. So, the young German man with over ten albums released in the past six years unraveled to his anesthetized audience for three luscious hours. He combines his rare approach to the grand and upright piano with a drum machine, Rhodes, Juno 60 and Moog Taurus. He does this with no looper, no computer and no playback. He is reminiscent of Brian Eno and Phillip Glass but certainly withholds his own dynamic sound such as playing the piano with toilet brushes and excelling at various rare instruments simultaneously right before your eyes. He attacks his piano keys like a wild beast with mallets for fingers and somehow flawlessly ethereal music is generated. The exceptional performance was punctuated by Frahm’s inconceivably humble anecdotes towards the audience. Vancouver’s Imperial was the perfect venue for this event, the sound, the lighting and the size gave the respect a performance like this deserves.As the show concluded, Frahm was drenched in his own mastermind perspiration and the audience with their drool. We had completed our ritual and were now reborn and unleashed into the leftovers of Friday night.


You Are Not Alone


Have you ever had a period in your life when you were only able to listen to the same musician in heavily generous amounts to do justice on how your’e feeling? This is a common human experience and usually devoted to a melancholic or even deeply tortured time in a listener’s life.

Although this is a generally shared experience we believe that this music in correlation with our pain is blatantly individualized, that nobody has ever felt quite this way before and that this music has never been able to connect with anybody else quite the same way. During this period it is as if a band has entered a recording studio in your subconscious to create an album based off of your thoughts and feelings. It is as if this album somehow belongs to you more than others and you have a rich and infinite connection with this piece of music and nobody understands the way you do.This is just a symptom of the everlasting narcissism and the addiction to sadness that human beings are made of like water and cells.

Many people experience this with Radiohead (album of your choice) as they are a band able to grasp the wide and bizarre variety of human emotion through sonic expression. Listeners that play music are often inspired by their rare and extraordinary melancholic yet technical approach. Non musicians enjoy the abstract and impalpable connection they have to the music. Another skill Radiohead has is to not only grasp your emotions in a song but also grasp your relationship with something in the world at large such as the apocalypse or the fear of dying but it is still YOUR relationship with this giant subject matter.

I personally went through a time when I felt I could only listen to The Rolling Stone’s song  “No Expectations” over and over and over and over and over. Every time I tried to listen to another song it sounded mediocre and inadequate. This was because I was going through a breakup like everybody else goes through but I, of course felt like somehow the Stones got together, recorded my relationship and decided to make a song about it with the perfect amount of slide guitar 40 years before the relationship. Everything about the song engulfed the tumultuous yet undefinable feelings swimming through me. The song eventually taught me to rationalize the situation and appreciate the natural conclusion of the relationship.

I then went through a phase when I felt all I could physically do was listen to Mazzy stars’ album  ‘So Tonight that I might See” on vinyl and fall into the abyss of my bedroom floor while feeling as if each lyric subtly exuded from Kendra Smith’s mouth was an answer to a question I didn’t know I had. Every time I listened to the album which is approximately 70,000 I felt like I just visited the best psychotherapist in the nation and was able to further my personal clarity by listening to the album again.

Then there is Nick Drake’s perfectly wistful  album “Fruit Tree” which made me feel less sad as he was always somehow more sad but made it seem so enticing. He makes me want to be sad forever and that any sign of joy is for fools and stoners. I then realized this notion could be detrimental for my lifestyle and eventually put the record at the bottom of my shelf, which I save for those special days when I am well past the blues and into the reds.

A friend of mine listened to Bon Iver’s iconic “For Emma Forever Ago” and went missing for two weeks.His situation was clearly shared amongst other sensitive men that lost the one that got away and without her their facial hair grows with reckless abandon.

Then there the classic musician-emotion combinations: Elliot Smith for misery, Cat Power for insecurity, Portishead for intimacy, Bob Dylan for heart-break, Amy Winehouse for heart-ache, Nina Simone for heart-sake.

The point? We are not alone when we are sad and that is OK, music isn’t strategically designed for our personal experience and that is also OK if there is some kind of interplanetary connection all of us share is this tangled world- it is this.

Flying Lotus- You’re Dead


The incredible Flying Lotus just released his fifth studio album “You’re Dead!”. Flying Lotus somehow navigates the balance between zany electronica and distinctively amiable instrumentalism. This is why he has such a large spectrum of fans, attending his concerts is like going to a random sampling session. However, his fans share one thing in common and that is enjoying daring, unique, soul soothing and hip educing music. You’re Dead! Continues to prove my theory that each Flying Lotus album is a further step into his genius subconscious.

Each song grasps a different angle of existence and demise .The concept of the album is about the undeniable relation we all of to the inevitability of death. Death of life, music and how enigmatic life truly is. Steven Ellision (Flying Lotus) has lost many inspiring people in his life including J Dilla, Austin Peralta and his Great Aunt Alice Coltrane. The exclamation point in You’re Dead! Is intentional as although the album is based off of a heavy concept the music is still exuberant and charmingly silly.

In regards to FlyLo’s diversity, the following collaborate on the album: Herbie Hancock, Snoop Dog, Kendrick Lamar, Brendon Small (Metalocalypse) and of course, his right hand man Thundercat. Shintaro Kago, the notoriously morbid yet quirky visual artist does the album artwork and grasped FlyLo’s concept perfectly.

“You’re Dead!” strings together a series of unlikely well-balanced themes and it works. It’s exquisitely fuelled with Jazz, IDM, Prog and Hip-Hop. It intertwines moments of intensity, grace and comfort. The whole album is walking on a tight rope but never falls off. The albums’ single “Never Catch Me” featuring Kendrick Lamar is an appropriate slice of this opus.

“You’re Dead!” is an excursion; reflecting on the haunting nature of the world yet rendering the beauty in vitality. It is an example of how dark subjects can be poetic, how we find beauty in dirt and diamonds in shit. Flying Lotus not only grasps one of the world’s most difficult subjects but makes an impossibly fun, opulent and appeasing album out of it-available Oct 6th.

Jeff Tweedy keeps getting better.


There once lived a band named Wilco and as you may have noticed I write about them quite a bit. Wilco is an arrangement of undeniably talented ex junkies who made albums for two decades that were each perpetually more exciting and perfected than the last. Some of which have changed the face of rock and roll, the way you understand the world and why music still matters. Front man Jeff Tweedy is known for his silky voice accompanied with astonishing guitar riffs and a certain ability to sling words together that are filled with tragedy, poetry and wit. There really is no one quite like him yet he is irrefutably awkward, a humble father and disinterested in the whole wide world bowing down to him. He always seems to come up with new projects that ooze with a sense of freshness and genius. That stated it seems fitting that the admittedly avid family man created a musical project with his 18 year old son Spencer who shares father Tweedy’s poise and talent.

They’re project is fittingly titled “Tweedy”. Although Jeff Tweedy’s new album “Sukierae” is preferably considered a solo project for Senior Tweedy; his son plays on a few songs and joins him on the road. Spencer was in a Jet (Remember Jet!) cover band when he was a little boy and it’s difficult for me to think of anything cuter than that. He ended up becoming a strong musician over the years; he sings, writes and wails on the drums with wild abandon in a way that pertains specifically to his innocent young arms.
Sukierae is a gorgeous, thoughtful and engaging piece of work. The album gracefully grasps the virtue in Tweedy’s voice, the reflective storytelling and is covered in warmth. Tweedy somehow finds the unique balance of Folk, Americana and Country, these interwoven elements make for an album you can truly lose yourself to. Tweedy continues to fish ideas out of his seemingly eternal profound well. The album’s single is titled “Low Key” and does feature Spencer. The music video is more like a short film-it showcases how much fun the two are having together and how nice it must feel to make music with your spawn. Tweedy has remained strong in the threshold of the tense and at times poisonousness music industry.He now gets to enjoy a different pace of making music and we get to enjoy the soundtrack.

Wu Tang Clan, science fans and dead pan; the ruckus of Bumbershoot.


Bumbershoot Music Festival is located smack down in the threshold of the bustling city of Seattle. It takes place in the last official week of summer thus typically concluding the sparkling and seemingly endless days of the 8 week festival phenomenon. For those of us that are less inclined to Burning Man and more inclined to Wu tang Clan this festival grabs the other half of die hard music lovers slurping on to summer like the nectar of buck a shuck oysters so delightfully suitable on an sunny Sunday. That stated Bumbershoot’s timing is designed to be bittersweet – and it is.

For starters, Seattle isn’t particularly dazzling, it’s interesting, big and important for various cultural and historical reasons but it’s not an invigorating experience of the American renaissance like Portland or Austin.

The festival takes place around the space needle and caters to the young and drunk. It isn’t particularly well organized, Starbucks runs half of it and surroundings are by no means festival-esque. However, if none of that stuff bothers you then it’s a great time with an equally great lineup celebrated by thousands, as the festival is virtually impossible to sell out. Bumbershoot offers musicians, comedians, authors and speakers making it a three-day festival of music, mind candy and soul food. I found myself with the rare opportunity to see Bill Nye, Mac De Marco and Wu Tang Clan in a row. Other exciting acts include the sizzling SZA, Valerie June, Kishi Bashi, Elvis Costello, Mavis Staples and Danny Brown.

The Highlights.

  • Kishi Bashi.

Kishi Bashi is Kaoru Ishibashi’s self recorded and produced project who also plays with Of Montreal and Regina Spektor. He is a unique and uplifting marvel currently outfitted with a stellar 4 piece band. Kishi Bashi Plays violin gracefully and gleefully followed with looping and estranged lyrics that somehow elevate the spirit. Kishi Bashi navigates the perfect balance of silly and stealthy. This is what music would sound like if Grizzly Bear and Yo Yo Ma had a child that ran a hot air balloon company in space. They played at the perfect point of the festival when your mind becomes more existential than you would like and you start questioning your life, Kishi Bashi took these thoughts and turned them into psychedelic origami-reminding you that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

  • Wu Tang Clan.

This was one of those rare occasions where the whole damn band got together and performed their hearts out to drooling fans clad in Wu Tang paraphernalia, refreshingly ranging in age and archetype. Their performance was solid, fun and energetic. Songs were well chosen from various stages of their wild careers while thousands of fans joined harmoniously waving their “W” signs in the air and having the time of their lives, this girl included.

  • Bootsy Collins.

Bootsy Collins is a legendary funk musician most famous for his work in Parliament-Funkadelic. The concert was a late night portrayal of why Funk music is still awesome. Everything was strategic; the choreography, the posing while wailing on a gimmick guitar and the set consisting mostly of funk anthems. However that didn’t do anything except make it a solid concert that encompassed everything that is important with this fleeting genre. It’s over the top and eccentric which is something we don’t see enough of these days. The performance was everything right about being flashy.

So yes the sweltering heat, ostensibly infinite nights and minimal outfits are over but I got a filing cabinet full of memories to re visit on those impending winter nights when you need them more than anything.

Pickathon Music Festival and all of it’s splendour.


Pickathon is a fucking magical place, now that I have that out of my system I will further explain…
Pickathon is located about 40 minutes outside of Portland in the wholesome Happy Valley which is as lovely as it sounds. It is  a beautiful, woodsy paradise that celebrates the perfect combination of scorching sunlight and dusty shade. It smells like childhood and looks like a dream. When you enter you are greeted by an arrangement of kind volunteers who are prominently parents with zany eyeglasses. Sounds arrange variably throughout each stage, which consist of two barns, a parachute paradise, a fort made out of pallets and the widely celebrated woods stage. The barns are Texas inspired masterpieces that offer four walls decorated beautifully consisting of musical antiques and relics from previous years.
The main stage gracefully holds three different stages all arranged with the intention to find the listener in the ideal position. The smallest stage is a recycled work of art and the woods stage is an avalanche of trees arranged to provide a completely hypnotic and all natural amphitheater. The bars are strategically placed throughout and offer micro craft beer that taste like the nectar of angels while food carts all commend a distinctive cuisine. There is no waste, recycling and compost bins are everywhere and the campsite is like a support group. There are inexplicably creative kids practicing their craft in every corner, no one gets out of hand, people sit serenely in front of the stage offering open ears and respect and the musicians are fresh and passionate. That stated the whole damn thing is a whirlwind of beauty that elevates the senses and brings out the best in people. In addition, everyone plays twice so you don’t miss a beat. The following acts were some highlights to this already illuminated experience.

Valerie June
Valerie June is an exquisite and unusual woman from Tennessee. She is a rare blend of classic bluegrass and gut wrenching blues. She is best described as “ Organic Moonshine Roots Music”. Her voice can be heard from miles away both in volume and emotion. Her songs are stories that express the wretched corners of struggle, the quake of falling in love and tales about the past. Her songs can be sloppily danced to in the middle of the night with a glass of scotch and mascara running down your face or provide a perfect background to baking a pie- depending on the level of production, some of her songs wear makeup, some of them don’t. Her performance got everyone sitting on haystacks mesmerized by the glimmer of her sequinned dress and arsenal of passion belting out of her gifted vessel.

The Quilt
The Quilt are an up and coming three piece Psychedelic Rock Band from Boston. They truly grasp the late sixties and celebrate the ambiguous yet elated style of songwriting that is often reduced to the term “Trippy”. In my humble opinion they are doing everything that Foxygen (who were also there) is trying to do but much better. They are passionate young things that know how to serenade, sing and slay their instruments.

Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett is an Australian singer songwriter and makes that sound that I have been looking for. She assembles deadpan storytelling and charming ramblings reminiscent of a young Bob Dylan while cruising the neck of her guitar all sleazy and noisy. She played in the hot as hell barn late at night with a smirk and a backpack full of talent.

Jolie Holland
Jolie Holland is a Texas Born lifetime musician and has evolved immensely since the Be Good Tanyas. She is a refreshingly edgy songwriter and is playing with a brilliant band. She strings words together and hangs them to dry over in front of you and all you can do is watch. Her performance was a heart jerking assembly of stories and songs straight from the gut.

Other highlights include the Sadie’s clad in their cowboy tuxedos in the early morning dew, Mac Demarco crowd surfing 80 feet and cheekily covering Coldplay’s “Yellow” and The War on Drugs who are musically tight yet loosen the audience. This summer has been filled with music festivals infiltrated with furry boots and drug overdoses. Pickathon keeps the numbers of attenders intentionally low, hires fresh musicians and leaves the 40 acres of delight back in a restored order. It really is that special.

Meanwhile In Vancouver


This city, it is still new to me and preserves the inviting yet intimidating nature that coincides with innovation. I inhabit this city like a raccoon in the night; sinister and curious, finding vitality in others refuse. That stated I frequent the late night musical performances that pour through. Recently, an overwhelming amount of talented artists have come to our fair city and have either orchestrated sonic mayhem and serenaded me with emotional lullabies. Here’s a little overview…

Nick Cave at the Orpheum
There really is no one quite like him and although I try to challenge this notion to remain controversial, I can’t. He is the Adonis of rock and roll, the poet of punk and the godfather of murder ballads. The comically Australian Renaissance man is on his 30th tour. Seeing him perform is like an uncomfortable counselling session with a psychotic genius. You are entirely emotionally exposed, you can’t help it and you kind of want to- like a self-conscious nudist. He captures the audience and holds them in his dirty palm. He also has an incredibly large bank of material to take from in which he did so flawlessly. His voiced is drenched in distinctive contours and his long time band The Bad Seeds perfect the art of being loud but not noisy. The crowd was a pile of ominous graduated party punks. It seemed as though they all avoided blinking to prevent from missing out on a single moment of this rare occasion.

Mac Demarco at the Vogue
Mac Demarco is having an entire musical career over the course of 8 months, which is mostly a result of he his third album “Salad Days”. He quickly experienced praise for his cutting edge and distinctive sound reminiscent of The Meat Puppets meets Chriss Issak. He was all of a sudden on the cover of everything indie and playing in every creative type café. This stage was shortly followed by the retroactive response that obscurests have to music in that he got “cool” and they were no longer interested. Now his fan base consists of people who don’t give a fuck about the social implications of liking popular music and people that like music because it is popular. He is an unexpected superstar as he is 23, from Duncan BC and charmingly disinterested in fame. He is committed to his long time quirky girlfriend and has the face of a young Mike Myers. That stated his concert was surrounded by a flurry of committed music lovers and girls with Mac Demarco written on their drunken breasts. He is lovely, strange and his band is refined. He sings about male feminism, love songs to cigarettes and ballads to his beloved. Before we worry about musicians that we liked before they were popular let us just be grateful that the new poster boy for contemporary music is not some self-important, misogynistic cliché of an artist.

Sharon Van Etten at the Rickshaw
Van Etten is one of those amazing musicians that makes being sad awesome. The Brooklyn born babe takes your hand and walks you down the alley of tortured memories mostly consequential of bad relationships. She is an adorable, guitar slaying, song belting fire darling. She is complicated, dark yet inviting. This concert was on behalf of her release of “Are we there” which is a self-admitted break up album. This concept isn’t new and potentially dangerous, however she is able to understand the implications of heartache in a progressive and self-reflective way. Her melodies are moods and her instrumentation is intellect.

No fun city only applies to no fun people.

Why are we guilty?


Guilty pleasures-we all have them from  reality television to news feed non sense, we are willing to indulge into things that we blatantly know are not beneficial for our well being. Guilt associated with music is more complex due to the subjective yet pretentious nature of it. I don’t even know if I subscribe to the notion of having musical guilty pleasures but I definitely behold the idea as if it is inherent. I tend to ignore my Phish or Bela Fonte cravings and find myself personally judgmental upon these desires. However, the biggest one I have under my belt is G love and….the Special Sauce. G love makes me want to wear my PJ’s all day, blow bubbles and build sand castles. These images are simple,kind, and non complicated. This part of my brain needs to exist and be fed my the musical workings of G love as it is the one remaining neighbourhood in my brain that is not convoluted by ferociously searching for lyrical metaphors or progressive experimentation. I need G love to imagine a simple world in which I inhabited as a child. However, somehow he… and his sauce remain guilty as they are simply “uncool” .I am quite sure I successfully lost a friendship when she found out I was a fan as I wasn’t maintaining my obscurest persona which is a bull shit notion to begin with.  We all have fragile infrastructures we so strongly wish will preserve to avoid the risk of becoming vulnerable and dare I say human to others. Our personal Berlin Walls we find necessary to sustain our internal wars.

Sure, G love  have lyrics that sound ghost written by monkeys but the magnificence is in the ease of it. All G love is trying to execute is love, simplicity and happiness and although many of us have synonyms for these words or detours on our journey we are all seeking that too. In fact, he is much braver  than some to just let it all hang out, signing on the beach about kissing pretty woman and never going back to Jersey. I recently found myself on the verge or a breakdown that seemed incomprehensible and bound to take years of psychotherapy to understand yet the second I heard their song “Relax” this state was dissolved into a flurry of ice cream and glitter. We need to feel good and we shouldn’t feel bad about this, so I say turn up your personal G love perhaps it’s Cher, Abba or Milli Vanilli- whatever gets you there, take down your wall!

New Pixies Bass babe-Paz Lenchantin

New Pixies Bass babe-Paz Lenchantin

Beck-The hollowed art of optimism.

Beck has recently released the highly anticipated album titled Morning Phase. This is Beck’s first album with Capitol Records, which like many of his previous albums, he produced as well. The album pronounced, significant and vastly different from his previous work. This is because Beck Hanson is a bona fide genius that somehow creates immaculate albums while remaining zany, mysterious and free of media jeopardy.

Morning Phase was highly anticipated after six years of Beck taking a recording hiatus. This is by no means to say he has been slacking as he has been touring the world, collaborating with others and raising his two children-Cosimo and Ribisi- I know those names make my heart burst as well.

The album is one of his more melancholic pieces, reminiscent of 2002’s Sea Change. This is becauseMorning phase is actually a “companion piece” to Sea Change in that it is intended to be an extension to the first album and contains most of the same musicians. The intentions of both albums are to “harness the darkness yet illuminate optimism”. This intention is eerily prevalent in both of these pieces of work. This is a more serious side of Beck that flaunts his undeniable talent. His lyrics are tragic lullabies that make one want to reflect on the meaning of everything. Each song is delicately strung together like a diamond bracelet that is subtle and precious. He truly invites listeners in, asks them to take a seat, get comfortable and lose themselves in the abyss of their own beautiful and messy insides. However, it remains tranquil and not at all self indulgent or celebratory of misery.

The single and immediate hit “Blue Moon” is a strong representation of the entire album- strong yet mysterious, poetic but not pretentious.

The album is considerably less bizarre than his previous work both lyrically and musically. Most of the lyrics mean what they say which isn’t always the case with Mr. Hansen. For example the great track mid way through the album “Don’t Let it Go” expresses the following: “ These are some faults we found, hollowed out from the years, don’t let them wear you out, don’t let them turn your mind inside out” which is considerably different to previous lyrics such as “ My time is a piece of wax, fallin’ from a termite that’s choking on the splinters” from the ever wonderful song “Loser” from 1994’s Mellow Gold. My personal favorite track on Morning Phase is “Wave” which is surreal, spooky and well suited to gazing at the stars in the middle of some phantom night.

Although there are many angles to Beck like David Bowie or Devendra Bahnhart he somehow remains unquestionably himself. He has a refined sound like no other and isn’t often mistaken for another. The album and experience ends with “Waking Light” which is suitable to the theme of the album and releases listeners back into the world, likely in a more insightful state. The album is sobering and somber but uplifting, which is exactly the intention. Morning phase is yet again another interwoven masterpiece from Beck but how can we be surprised?