Why Outkast Flopped At Coachella (It’s Not EDM’s Fault)

Outkast at Coachella 2014

A well-written article called “Why It’s EDM’s Fault Outkast Flopped” has gotten a lot of attention around the interwebs this week. In it, author Tim Hirsh picks apart the duo’s Coachella performance and blames the audience’s lack of energy on false expectations created by attending the sensory overload of an electronic dance concerts. The key quote: “The needle has slowly shifted away from ‘music,’ towards ‘party.’”

Hirsh isn’t completely wrong. Take a look at the trailers and aftermovies for the world’s most successful EDM festivals, and you’ll be hit with a wave of communal energy that’s completely awe-inspiring. More than any other genre of music, EDM is explicitly designed for the live space (hell, “dance” is in the name). But while Hirsh contends that the stratospheric production values of today are replacing the lyrics-based of yesteryear, he overlooks the most basic rule of headlining a music festival: sustaining a personal connection with the audience. This article shouldn’t be considered a eulogy for the whole genre—rap artists like Kanye, Macklemore, and Drake have been clear festival highlights for the last few years. But it does show that whether you’re Avicii, Jay Z, Muse, R. Kelly, or Lionel Freaking Richie, the best festival headliners find a way to enrapture their audience by sheer force of personality.

It’s not EDM’s fault Outkast flopped; it’s Outkast’s. Continue reading

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Recommended Track: “Mangrove” by Young & Sick

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Step outside and breathe in the spring air. There’s a slight breeze between your hair and the crooks of your ears; it sounds like keyboards beginning to bounce, pinging back and forth with the beat like two kids making up a dance as they play. Some wordless coos help you shake that sleepy feeling as you take a few steps down the block. You’re awake now, and the sun is shining bright.

With any luck, you’re listening to “Mangrove”, the opening track from Young & Sick’s debut album. Self-described as an “art project” by the Dutch singer/producer Nick Van Hofwegen (who does everything, including his album art), Young & Sick creates a breezy, slick hybrid of R&B and soulful pop that won’t be ignored.  Continue reading

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Don’t Think About It Too Much

Life In The Real World, Day 217: Don’t Think About It Too Much

Earlier tonight, I found out that the job I quit back in October laid off every single copywriter and editor in their web and magazine departments, outsourcing their jobs and ripping up their contracts. Just like that, another floor full of people is out there looking for jobs with the rest of the word.

Obviously I had a wave of reactions rising up at pretty much the same time: relief that I made the “right” decision, sympathy for friends who had the rug ripped out from under them, anger that a company could (and would) do that, resignation that it’s just the way the world works, gratitude that I took an uncertain step and it worked out for the moment.

I heard once in dire times, when you need a sign, that’s when they appear. I made a bad mistake at work last week that I honestly thought might cost me my job. Continue reading

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Recommended Track: “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)” by Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker

One thing about Ryan Adams’ music: it’s always perfect for the rain. Like a lot of musicians, his whole career has arguably been about recapturing the soul of his first album. Heartbreaker might be the best singer-songwriter album of the last two decades, a quiet showcase of Adam’s gift for simple melody and the immediate lyricism that launched him to the forefront of alt-country.

Continue reading

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Poem: Plot Twists

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Plot Twists

I might stop watching TV because I don’t
want anyone else to die. Killing your darlings
is all the rage these days—no one’s prepped
for art imitating life with a rib to the gut
when the ratings go down. And I know
it’s all supposed to be play, like little children
laying on their backs and closing their eyes
but maybe I’m not interested in having another friend
ripped away from me into the autumn brush or cast
into silence, all because the status quo hasn’t shaken
its limbs in a while and straightened the coil over wildfire.
David passed away in a coma on Friday morning.
Karen called up to say he “made his transition”
and I’m left trying to come up with another meaning
for another piece of the world going static
while she asks me to help put his writing desk
into storage. Maybe I’m better off with the idiot box.
At least I know there’s a Writer behind every decision
to take one in the chest or feel your teeth rattling out
your gums when the Center City bus is at a red light.
And at least I’ll know there’s someone who cares
enough about me to try and keep me on the same channel.

 

From my upcoming poetry collection, “dead friends.

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Review: The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There

The Hotelier’s new album puts a beautifully fractured voice to feeling broken.

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It seems like everyone I know has been dying recently.

I know that’s not the best way to open up a music review, but it’s a thought that’s been running through my head for months—during runs, at bars, while I’m waiting for the bus—like a stray chorus that won’t get unstuck. It’s been a rough winter. Some have taken their own lives, some have had it taken from them, and all I can do is decide how numb I want to go when I hear that another person is in the hospital or worse.

Let me start over: I haven’t felt a particularly strong bond with emo music in a while. Continue reading

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Recommended Mix: Ta-ku – Drive Slow, Homie Pt. III

My friend/co-worker Max Pete sends me lots of great mixes during work. Here’s one by the awesome Australian producer Ta-ku, released in conjunction with music blog HYPETRAK.

I especially love the Khadisma tracks, Falcxne, and the Justin Beiber remix at the end.

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