Update: The economy strikes indie-town! Due to poor ticket sales, on February 3rd, Langerado’s promoters decided to cancel the festival.
If you still wanna rock in Florida, head up north to St. Augustine for Harvest of Hope (QRO festival preview) – a lot of the same acts are playing, though some who were planning to do both had to cancel both: Broken Social Scene, DeVotchKa, The Virgins, and The Faint.
For posterity’s sake, here’s our preview of the festival that might have been:
Kicking off the music festival season is South Florida’s Langerado, and in 2009 it gets even bigger. While it started, like many a fest, as a jam band-apalooza, in the past few years it has been drawing in indie, rock, electronic, hip-hop, world acts and more as its moved around the tip of the Sunshine State, from Ft. Lauderdale to Markham Park in ’06 & ’07 and Seminole Big Cypress Indian Reservation last year.
This year, Langerado moves once again, to Bicentennial Park, within Miami, on March 6th-8th. Some fans complain that they won’t be able to camp this year – others are thankful that they can sleep on a bed indoors in air-conditioning, and not on a bed of sun-scorched mud.
But whatever your taste, Langerado certainly has a wide array of acts, from indie all-stars (and up-and-comers) to mainstream rock to hip-hop and, yes, jam-band festival regulars. There’s also a large contingent of acts that draw inspiration from outside of America (with the salsa unsurprisingly strong), as well as an impressive amount of genre-crossing:
(note: Langerado unfortunately takes place over the same three-day weekend as Harvest of Hope in St. Augustine – and while they’re in the same state, you can’t just hop from one to the other, as Miami & St. Augustine are on opposite ends of the long, long state. But a host of acts are playing both, including: Against Me!, Bad Brains, Girl Talk, Lucero, The Gaslight Anthem, The Black Kids, Tokyo Police Clube, Ra Ra Riot, King Khan & The Shrines, Holy Fuck, Deerhunter and Tigercity – QRO Harvest of Hope preview)
See end for recent additions
FRIDAY, MARCH 6TH:
Do you really need to be introduced to Snoop Dogg? Unless you’ve been living on that island from Lost with The Others for the past twenty years, you’ve seen Snoop from his part in Death Row Records’ West Coast rap ascendance with “Gin and Juice” through his legal troubles and ‘less-than-amicable’ split from Death Row to today’s chart-topping success in hip-hop and mainstream, most recently with last year’s Ego Trippin’. His high profile and relatively laid-back, but charming, persona these days have also made him ubiquitous on screen, whether cameoing as himself in everything from Showtime’s Weeds to T-Mobile Sidekick ads, or guest-spotting as a rapper from Showtime’s L Word to ABC daytime soap One Life to Live (not to mention having his own reality show, Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood, and filling the quintessential pimp role as Huggy Bear in the big screen remake of Starsky & Hutch). But Snoop will be returning to rhyming when he’s on stage (let’s just hope he fares better than Kanye West at last year’s Bonnaroo…).
Flogging Molly (QRO photos) is on the leading edge of today’s workingman’s punk rock, borrowing from veterans like The Pogues (see Saturday) and influencing bands like The Gaslight Anthem (see Sunday). The Celtic tinge to this Los Angeles act has only grown, with last year’s produced-in-Eire Float reaching new heights in popularity for the genre, as well as bringing it to the wide open air (QRO photos outdoors).
Broken Social Scene
Since being part of the indie-rock ‘Canadian Invasion’ of 2003/2004, Toronto’s Broken Social Scene have also become one of the most sought-after festival bands in the alternative music arena, whether indoors at industry showcases (QRO photos from CMJ 2008) or outdoors at more traditional fests (QRO photos outdoors from Siren Festival 2008) – including Harvest of Hope (QRO festival preview). Fronted by singer/guitarists Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning (QRO interview), this giant collective includes The Apostle of Hustle, Andrew Whiteman (QRO live review), Do Make Say Think’s Charles Spearin, and a rotating female vocalist spot that’s included Metric’s Emily Haines (QRO live review), Leslie Feist (QRO live review), and Land of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell (QRO interview). While their most recent releases were ‘BSS Presents:’ records focused on Drew (Something For All of Us… – QRO review) and Canning (Spirit If… – QRO review), their live show (QRO live review) includes everything from Spearin’s fascinating upcoming Happiness Project to the old ‘hits’ like “K.C. Accidental” (QRO video) and “Fire Eyed Boy” (QRO video).
The last thing you’d expect out of Omaha, Nebraska, techno/dance act The Faint left long-time local label Saddlecreek for their own blank.wav to release last year’s Fasciination (QRO review). Like other electronic acts playing at Langerado (as well as Harvest of Hope – QRO festival preview), The Faint does more than just DJ-ing with electronic beats, being inventive in their accessibility. But here’s hoping they play at night, where their light & smoke show can come out in full (QRO photos).
There are combos and then there are combos: Montreal’s electrofunk duo of Dave 1 (David Macklovitch) and P-Thugg (Patrick Gemayel) has been best friends since childhood, billing themselves “The only successful Arab/Jewish collaboration since the beginning of time” (but what is their stance on Québécois independence?…).
Bristol, England’s Tricky started with trip-hop underground all-stars Massive Attack (QRO live review) before blowing up on his own, combining black and white Great Britain, hip-hop and high art, to make him another crossover act at Langerado.
Another band that’s moved from the outside to the majors, many fans of Against Me! saw their signing to Sire as a betrayal of their anarchist ethos, and 2007 major label debut New Wave did nothing to quiet the divide in the punk rock community. However, singer/guitarist Tom Gabel has simmered down a bit, going from being arrested after a fight over a defaced article about his band, to his recent-released solo debut, Heart Burns, and a series of gigs with fellow punk frontmen playing acoustic, ‘The Revival Tour’ (QRO photos of Tom Gabel outdoors as part of ‘The Revival Tour’ at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2008). But expect the fired-up Gabel & Against Me! to return when the group returns home to Florida for a pair of festivals (including Harvest of Hope – QRO festival preview).
It’s getting to the point where you can’t say Bad Brains’ appearances are ‘reunions’, but rather the stable return of the legendary punk act. Pretty much single-handedly founding the Afro-punk movement (and the D.C. punk scene), as they moved from jazz fusion to hardcore in the late seventies & early eighties, Bad Brains have had more than their fair share of ups & downs over the years, including the departure of seminal frontman H.R., but the original line-up has stayed stable for a while now – but only in the past few years, especially since releasing 2006’s Build a Nation, has the band toured (and sold) so steadily. Their mix of hardcore and reggae can make for stop-start shows (and records), but has also given them a growing festival popularity (QRO photos outdoors at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2008), including Harvest of Hope (QRO festival preview).
Gym Class Heroes
Emo-punk mainstream hits Gym Class Heroes will keep all the young-ins occupied before Against Me! (see above), while all the adults go get a drink.
There might not be a more ‘live’ electronic band out there today than Holy Fuck, whose stated mission is make electronic music without all the studio trickery so prevalent in the genre – and which so often hampers it live (especially outside of the dance club). Instead, the band managed to record 2007’s LP (QRO review) on the fly (with opener “Super Inuit” in front of an audience), and now is hitting the outdoor festival circuit, including up in St. Augustine at Harvest of Hope (QRO festival preview).
The much-hyped about young post-punk revival act from New York – Matt Pinfield recently called them ‘the future of music’ when introducing them at All Points West Festival (QRO photos outdoors at APW) – have blown up in record time, signing to a major label, being played on Gossip Girl, festival circuit (including Harvest of Hope – QRO festival preview), you name it. They met at a photo shoot, and still have something of that nature to them: better-looking than -sounding, and just original enough to grace glossy pages as something new, without scaring anyone off.
This Brooklyn disco-dance act (QRO photos in Brooklyn) owes a great deal to the discotronic movement of the likes of LCD Soundsystem (QRO live review) and VHS or Beta (QRO spotlight), even if they’re not as inspired (QRO photos, opening for VHS or Beta). What their light show will look like outside during the day is anyone’s guess (though they’re also playing Langerado – QRO festival preview), but expect dancing (QRO video).
SATURDAY, MARCH 7TH:
Death Cab for Cutie
A well-deserved headlining slot for a band that’s gotten better as they’ve gotten bigger. When Pacific Northwest alternative favorite Death Cab for Cutie left long-time indie imprint Barsuk for major Label Atlantic in 2005 with Plans, fans thought the sky might be falling. But instead, Death Cab has released not one, but two of their best records to-date, following up Plans last year with the excellent Narrow Stairs (QRO review). Singer/guitarist Ben Gibbard may have gone from dork to looking like a Cascadian beefcake – he just got engaged to Zooey Deschanel of She & Him (QRO album review)/Yes Man (meanwhile, his side project, The Postal Service, may never release a follow-up to the much beloved Give Up), but guitarist Chris Walla is still an indie producer extraordinaire (and kept his alt-cred with his own solo record last year on Barsuk, Field Manual – QRO review). And with over a decade’s worth of strong material, their well is deep for a wide performance.
Thievery Corporation (Live)
D.C.’s multi-cultural electronic all-star duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton bring not just their expansive, chill, globe-trotting signature sound (and some revolutionary ideals often missing in the ‘party time’, apolitical attitude of electronica), but also an eye-opening live performance with a fifteen-person band and grand light show – thus the so-key “(Live)” designation, to distinguish the act from other computerized acts, which just press ‘Play’ and collect their check (that’s why Langerado invited them back for the second year in a row).
Coming out of the melting pot of mid-nineties SoCal, thanks to being discovered by Sublime’s late frontman Bradley Nowell (while the band was still in high school), Slightly Stoopid have lived out Nowell’s sun-baked combination of punk, reggae, rock, and hip-hop. Their loyal fan base has let them stay outside the major label system, while still filling venues worldwide, and being very active on the festival circuit (including Langerado back in 2006).
Kings Cross’ pride took the punk of the late seventies and early eighties and introduced an Irish tinge, fronted by the unmistakable Shane MacGowan. As well as giving Brits their favorite Christmas song ever in “Fairytale of New York”, The Pogues also are the godfathers of today’s Celtic punk and workingman’s punk, such as Flogging Molly (see Friday). After a booze-soaked dissolution in the nineties, the band reunited in the new millennium, and in the last few years have even returned to the States (including playing St. Patrick’s Day shows at New York’s Roseland Ballroom – QRO venue review). While there hasn’t been any new material since the reunion, that just leaves more time for their classics (even if seeing them outdoors isn’t quite the same as the whiskey-stained pubs they came from).
Don’t let anyone say that Langerado has completely abandoned its jam-band roots. The ‘progressive improvisation’ of Umphrey’s McGee combines the live ways of such hippie legends as Phish and The Grateful Dead (often-changing set lists, heavy live jam sessions, fanatic fans recording) with more progressive-inspired music, making them a festival mainstay (including three previous times at Langerado).
Cold War Kids
After a string of EPs, this Fullerton, California act blew up in 2006 with their full-length debut, Robbers & Cowards. While last year’s Loyalty to Loyalty (QRO review) suffered something of a sophomore slump, their live show (QRO live review outdoors) is still electric, especially outside, as they still ring with singles from the recent “Something Is Not Right With Me” to their break-out “We Used To Vacation” and “Hang Me Out To Dry”.
Before rap was mainstream and became today’s highly successful commercial product, Public Enemy broke the doors open by combining modern civil rights activism with the then-unknown music of streets, hip-hop. Chuck D & Flavor Flav (before he descended into VH1 ‘celebreality’, from which he seems to be clawing his way out of) shocked America with such records as It Takes a Nation of Millions and Fear of a Black Planet (which has since been inducted in the Library of Congress!?!), with seminal tracks like “Don’t Believe the Hype”, “911 (Is a Joke)”, and “Fight the Power”, which had the most charged controversial line since the Vietnam War, “Elvis was a hero to most / But he never meant shit to me / You see, straight-up racist that sucker was simple and plain / Mother-fuck him and John Wayne!” You know what time it is!
Putting some ambience and psychedelica into their alt-rock is New Orleans’ Mute Math, who are looking to release their follow-up to their 2006 self-titled full-length debut (so expect new material on stage). The band blew up in 2007 with their video “Typical”, where the band performs the song backwards…
George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic
If you don’t know who George Clinton is, then you should really be ashamed. One of the, if not the innovator of funk, Clinton took the Motown soul sounds of the seventies and, well, funkified it. With Parliament/Funkadelic, he not only blew that sound up, but also blew it up on stage, introducing the kind of spectacle that all other acts still measure themselves against. “Make my funk the P. Funk / I want my funk uncut / Make my funk the P. Funk / I wants to get funked up!”
Mixing post-rock modernism with jazz and electronica, Tortoise are part of Chicago’s large instrumentalist community (such as labelmates The Sea and Cake – QRO live review – with whom they share drummer John McEntire). At once experimental and yet relaxed, they’re sort of a twenty-first century version of progressive rock.
Langerado certainly seems committed to introducing and combining a variety of musical styles, and Los Angeles’ Ozomatli return for a second year as they mix rock, hip-hop, salsa, jazz, funk, reggae, & more – it’s been described by the group as taking in everything one hears on a trip down all of famed Sunset Boulevard…
Stepping outside their well-worn Austin home, eleven-piece latin funk orchestra Grupo Fantasma take a trip to the source of their salsa sound. The band has gotten more of a notice in indie circles thanks to their work on PBS’ Austin City Limits (QRO Indie on Late Night TV) and providing horns for fellow Austinites Spoon (QRO live review). But they’re still a dance party at heart (QRO photos outdoors & at home at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2008), and in any tongue.
The throwback flavor is strong on Saturday, including Staten Island’s afro-soul instrumental ensemble bring their own spin on sweet sixties R&B down south. With anywhere between eleven to thirteen members, expect the stage to be packed when Budos Band steps into the sun (QRO photos outdoors).
The cowpunkers Lucero (QRO photos) arrive at today’s workingman’s punk from the southern, country/punk end of things. Singer/guitarist Ben Nichols is coming off his solo record and ‘Revival Tour’ (QRO photos outdoors at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2008) with Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music – QRO photos) and Tim Barry (Avail), but the band just signed a four-album deal with Universal, so expect them to be trying out tracks from their upcoming major label debut as they work the festival circuit (including Harvest of Hope – QRO festival preview).
King Khan & The Shrines
When old-timers complain that rock has lost the crazy performance antics of yore, tell them to check out King Khan & The Shrines. While the band’s sound borrows from fifties garage rock, this Montreal-meets-Berlin act has one of the wildest stage shows out there – especially outside (QRO live review outdoors) at festivals (including Harvest of Hope – QRO festival preview). Led by King Khan himself (of duo King Khan & BBQ Show – QRO photos), wearing a Speedo & garbage bag poncho/cape, the group is known for its go-go dancer, battling on stage, diving into the crowd, leading fans in sing-along renditions of “I Wish I Was a Girl” and “Stone Soup” (QRO video), and starting a projectile war with the audience by hurling bananas at them…
Ra Ra Riot
Oh, how they’ve grown! In the less than two years since their self-titled EP (QRO review) and the death of singer/drummer John Pike, this Nor’easter collective has not only rebounded but exploded, embracing life even more on last year’s excellent The Rhumb Line (QRO review) than early single “Dying Is Fine” (QRO video) could have predicted. Ra Ra Riot’s live show (QRO live review) sees everyone but the drummer running around on stage like kids on candy, but they’re also relative ‘veterans’ of outdoor concerts, from near-immediately after Pike’s death (QRO live review outdoors) to more recent festivals (QRO photos outdoors at Siren Festival 2008), including Harvest of Hope (QRO festival preview) and, before that, San Francisco’s Noise Pop (QRO festival preview). They also play “every song we know”, from early numbers like “Can You Tell?” (QRO video) to recent Rhumb single “Ghost Under Rocks” (QRO video) and the Pike-penned “St. Peter’s Day Festival” (QRO video). However, do watch for singer Wesley Miles (QRO interview) jumping band members and even into the crowd (QRO photo) – as well as a tight pack of males in front of everyone’s indie-rock crush, Alexandra Lawn (QRO photos)…
SUNDAY, MARCH 8TH:
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
The alt-country/rock artist broke out in the first half of this decade when he went alone, finding major success in the country/rock mainstream, but Adams eventually embraced his backing band, The Cardinals, and kept on writing, most recently with last year’s Cardinology. An anthology release (including several new songs) is planned for later this year, so expect all of Adams’ discography in the set. It was also recently announced that this would be Adams last tour with The Cardinals…
While many still focus on how he’s an Orthodox Jew who plays reggae & rap, other than maybe drawing some local Jewish grandparents (the same ones who voted for Pat Buchanan in 2000…), Matisyahu has grown out of his initial oddity to marry reggae and rap in his own style. Along the way, he has also become a festival favorite, starting at his breakthrough guest-spot with Phish at Bonnaroo 2005. Now he returns to Langerado for a third year in a row (QRO photos from Langerado 2007) a veteran.
One of the founders of today’s emo movement, Chris Carrabba’s Dashboard Confessional evolved out of his solo acoustic work to a full band ensemble. Currently working on a new record, expect new material and lots of sad, heart-aching kids when the Boca Raton native returns home.
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Like many of the acts at Langerado, the Bay Area’s multi-ethnic Michael Franti is a mixture, as he fuses hip-hop & jam-band with Spearhead. Also noted for his peace and social activism (including going barefoot since 2000), it hopefully won’t fly over the heads of his crowd as he returns to the festival, which he graces for the fourth time.
The Disco Biscuits
Coming up on another end of the jam-band spectrum is The Disco Biscuits, who add electronic instrumentation and elements to their jams (dubbed ‘trance fusion’ or ‘livetronica’). Another festival mainstay (including every Langerado since 2006), maybe they’ll introduce the hippies to electronica, and the ravers to jams…
Gregg Gillis (Girl Talk) moved from biomedical tissue engineering to DJ mash-up engineering, taking samples from across the spectrum and making something very new. More used to playing the clubs, who knows what he’ll look and sound like outdoors, but Langerado invited him back after 2007 (and he’s doing Harvest of Hope – QRO festival preview)…
In the southeastern-most part of The United States (well, except for Puerto Rico – but they are also playing slightly more northern Harvest of Hope – QRO festival preview…), American indie rock meets southeastern European tradition in DeVotchKa. While they hail from the Mile High middle of the U.S., DeVotchKa utilizes such instruments as Theremin, bouzouki, and sousaphone along with such mainstays as guitar, percussion, and bass (well, double bass…). They broke through in 2006 with their Grammy-nominated soundtrack to the Oscar-nominated Little Miss Sunshine, and followed that up last year with A Mad and Faithful Telling (QRO review).
Florida natives Black Kids (QRO photos) blew up thanks to a festival (albeit across the border in Georgia), and have been just getting more and more exposure – New York Times, USA Today, even one of Rolling Stone’s ten ‘Artists to Watch’ for 2008. The infectious hip-shakin’ of last year’s Partie Traumatic – and especially single “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You” (QRO video) – keeps paying dividends (QRO live review).
Tokyo Police Club
This hard-charging young act from Canada (not Japan) blew up thanks to a few EPs and near-continuous touring (QRO photos), but cemented their status last year with their first full-length, Elephant Shell (QRO review). Fronted by one of those rarer-than-you-think bassist/singers in Dave Monks (QRO photos), Tokyo Police Club’s live energy runs all the way through the band, including keyboardist Graham Wright (QRO interview), and into the crowd (including at Harvest of Hope – QRO festival preview) – but watch out for mosh pits (QRO live review)!…
Not just a band, but an eco-artist’s-commune-family, Minnesota’s Cloud Cult (QRO photos) delivers inventive, interesting, and enthralling music, most recently with last year’s Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes) (QRO review) and the year prior’s The Meaning of 8 (QRO review). Fronted by singer/guitarist Craig Minowa, the band takes ‘collective’ to new heights – bassist Sarah Young toured while fully pregnant, and Minowa’s wife Connie serves as one of two on-stage painters (with trumpeter Scott West): throughout their performance, the pair paint completely original pieces of art, which are then auctioned off after the set. Whether in places large (QRO photos) or small (QRO photos), Cloud Cult is a sight to behold with songs like “The Story of the Grandson of Jesus” (QRO video), “Take Your Medicine” (QRO video), and “The Girl Underground” (QRO video).
The newest band on today’s workingman’s punk wave, New Brunswick, New Jersey’s Gaslight Anthem (QRO photos) borrow from classic punk and more recent predecessors like Flogging Molly (see Saturday) & hometown heroes Bouncing Souls (QRO photos) – but also from the Garden State’s ultimate shining musical light (no, not Sinatra – not even Bon Jovi…), Bruce Springsteen. Once described as the product of some alternate history of rock, where The Boss embraced his early love of The Clash, that’s a lot to recommend the band and their ’59 Sound.
Local up-and-comers return to their hometown’s big show. Miami’s Postmarks blew up in 2007 with their self-titled debut (QRO review), and followed that up with an appearance at Langerado 2008. Now riding off their recent covers release, By the Numbers (QRO review), the beautiful, orchestral band returns to Langerado (insert your own ‘Return to Sender’ joke here), fronted by the beautiful Tim Yehezkely.
Langerado was bolstered when Modest Mouse (QRO photos) announced their schedule, and Langerado was on it. The Washington State indie-rock act broke through to mainstream success in 2004 with Good News For People Who Like Bad News, and followed that up by adding Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr for 2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (QRO review) – unfortunately, Marr will be recording with The Cribs (QRO album review) during this tour, but Grandaddy guitarist Jim Fairchild (QRO album review) can more than fill in.
Gene Ween Band
As one-half of underground smash-success Ween, Gene Ween has formed one of the more enduring and out there acts out there, with a wide-ranging fanbase more typical of jam bands. Gene Ween was set to head out solo with his own side-project band in December, but illness knocked back those dates to February – allowing it to coincide with Langerado.
No one was more prolific last year than Deerhunter’s singer/guitarist Bradford Cox (QRO live review), who not only put out the well-received Microcastle (QRO review), but also included a second disc of all-original bonus material, Weird Era Cont. (QRO review) – and oh, yeah, released a solo record (as Atlas Sound), Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel (QRO review) that beat ‘em both. Known for electric shows whether indoor as the Sound (QRO live review) or outdoors with Deerhunter (QRO live review), Cox & Deerhunter (QRO photos outdoors) will be as prolific with festivals this year (including Harvest of Hope – QRO festival preview – and, before that, San Francisco’s Noise Pop – QRO festival preview).
London’s Alberta Cross have made a major showing there, being part of opening tours for the likes of The Shins to Oasis. Having since moved to New York, their blues-influenced alt-rock is getting even closer to home.
For festival’s website, go here: http://www.langerado.com/