During our week in Las Vegas, dRiFFt attended the Life Is Beautiful Festival pre-party and the Doritos Blaze the Beats competition held at The Foundry at SLS Hotel Las Vegas. Five finalists, mentored by Busta Rhymes, were there to battle for $50,000 in prize money in front of a live crowd and panel of judges, Busta included. “Our goal is for Blaze the Beat to open doors for Hip-Hop artists,” said VP of Marketing of Frito-Lay Rachel Ferdinando. The five finalists opened for headliner Wiz Khalifa, each with their own freestyle to the same beat, created by Busta Rhymes himself. Khalifa says; "It's cool for the artists, because I remember on my way up there weren't too many opportunities like this to get noticed and recognized by those that you look up to as well."
We had a chance to catch up with Carly (@iamcarlyx), the youngest and sole female competitor.
I'm back home in Austin, semi-recovered from the insanity of a beautiful week in Vegas, scrambling to stay on top of photography, posts, stories, photos, hometown shows and now the pending madness of our very own Austin City Limits festival starting ...**drumroll**... this Friday. Oh, ACL... those cherished weekends of shut-down city blocks, insane crowds, impossible traffic, beautiful people, Titos & tacos left and right, late night shows, a great many celebrity spottings and the most glorious, wonderful music offerings of the year. Which is a huge feat granted that Austin is always home to excellent music on a regular day. Can I adequately describe my excitement for ACL?
Not even close.
Rarely do I encounter live music that leaves we with goosebumps in the first minute of their first song… but Welshly Arms accomplished precisely that. I had the privilege to catch their Saturday set at Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas, and it was as chill-inducingly awe-inspiring as I’d hoped. Epic, unbridled energy; raw raspy passion and the soul of a rock n'roll freight train. I’m almost sad I hadn’t seen them live before now. Fittingly, their Lifeisbeatiful.com bio breathes Legendary status into this band’s presence on the 2018 lineup;
"Every once in a while, a lyric can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. That's exactly what happened in the case of Cleveland rock band Welshly Arms. On the breakout single "Legendary," lead singer and guitarist Sam Getz belts, "Cuz we're gonna be legends, gonna get their attention." - Life Is Beautiful page bio.
I'm walking down the neon-canopied downtown branch of Fremont Street with a camera in one hand and a double Bacardi pineapple concoction in plastic-cup-glory in the other. People are milling about; some on the traditional Vegas quest for gambling, glitz and boozy glory, others are most definitely of the "I just festivaled for three days straight, I'm covered in dirt and I don't know where my hotel is" variety. It's a scene to behold. The festival has just ended and I'm celebrating (commiserating?) with something decidedly punchy and strong. My body aches, my camera is almost dead and my ears are ringing; it's the glorious post-fest haze and despite my exhaustion, I don't want it to be over. Three days of color, phenomenal music, delectable food, exceptional art and glorious photography.
"Rock and roll is dead. Or rather… rock and roll WAS dead and Blacktop Mojo just poured a bottle of whiskey down its throat and took the damn defibrillators to town on that b*tch until it woke the hell up. " - Kevin Skinner, Fox Force Five News
It's over, complete, done, caput, gonzo... three glorious days of festival. I'm sitting on a plane headed back to Austin in a somewhat bewildered, exhausted haze, relishing the experience, the music, the people, new friends and the glorious, beautiful, incredible photos I'm taking home. It was like a technicolor dream. The best of the music world coalescing into one fantastical, gritty, neon celebration. I've survived Life Is Beautiful 2018; experienced Vegas' slant on the worldwide festival phenomena and folks, they've done it right.
A Saturday to remember. It was fully worth it, but I'm at a loss trying to find a way to adequately express the kind of pain I'm in this morning... my feet hate me. My knees hate me. My back is screaming... am I really this old and decrepit? I guess so. But 'No Ragrets;' Saturday was one for the books. Making new friends, sprinting between stages, catching some of my favorite artists, discovering new favorites, sitting down to chat with the incomparable Welshly Arms and discovering more of the hidden art and culinary delights of Life Is Beautiful.
I conquered Day One of Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas, NV yesterday. Wow, what a scene. Nothing could prepare me for this one; from the sheer size of it (...that's what she said...), to the colorful variety of music, culture, art, comedy and food. LiB knows how to put on a show. It's now a gorgeous sunny Saturday morning and I'm sitting here sipping my third coffee waiting for the painkillers to kick in. No, I'm not hungover... I'm festival photographer-over. It's amazing how physically demanding these festivals are, even when you're not dancing the night away. I know I walked at least 36 miles and my feet aren't hesitating to tell me all about it. Help.
I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to share Vegas stories, a la "what happens in Vegas..." but I like breaking rules, and I'm way too stoked about this one, so let me tell you about last night.
Scandalous, I know...
Wow, I've totally just set you up for disappointment. This is not at all scandalous.
I love artists that aren't afraid to be in your face. I also love strong front-women, those who aren't apologetic about doing their thing and doing it exceptionally well. The ones putting on a show that's almost too real, too big and too personal. Where you walk out of the venue and say "wow, that made me a little uncomfortable, but, uh, ...more please?" Kaleido's Christina Chriss gets in your personal space with a deliciously fun, gritty performance. Unquestionably, it's the best thing that will happen to you all week.
These Detroit rockers are veritable veterans in the music world. They've six years under their belt, two stunning EPs and a full album, and an impressive resume of tours including repeat appearances at Vans Warped Tour, opening for Seether, Offspring, Chevelle, Evanescence, Kid Rock and a stint on Shiprocked. They're currently in the middle of an ambitious 44-day tour, playing almost every single day in different cities. They gleefully hint that there's much more in store.
What do you get if you combine the audacity of Outkast's The Love Below, some Blitzkrieg Bop, a sprinkle of groove, a smattering of Bollywood and some 80's classic rock? ...Austin's very own Bourgeois Mystics. "'Keep Austin Weird' is most definitely a cliche, but it is a tagline that we’ve modernized to hopefully become Austin’s premiere hip weird band." - Finesse
Citing influences as diverse as Outkast, punk rock and Bollywood, this eclectic group is putting themselves on the Austin radar with a fresh, creative, catchy sound. I sat down with vocalist and one of three founding members, 'Squiggly Finesse' before their Waterloo Fest Wednesdays show at the Parish. I wanted to learn more about how this group evolved and how they found a unique sound that is carving a new niche in our musically-saturated city. Finesse tells me how Bourgeois Mystics were borne of a low-key jam session; "it was the most natural, organic jam I’d ever experienced." Growing from a trio consisting of Finesse (Keys/vox), Zenith Nadir (bass/vox) and Tonto Luigi (guitar), they’ve grown into their unique sound with nine standing members and plans to add two additional vocalists. They’ve an ambitious year ahead of them; they are recording a new EP for 2019 and planning a full album for 2020 in addition to raucous live shows in Austin and beyond.
August 12, 2018
It's obscenely hot; Texas hot, where the air is thick and soupy and you feel the sweat dripping down the small of your back. My shoes are melting on the asphalt. It's still a few minutes before 10am, and Dominic Harrison, the force we know as Yungblud, is dancing through crowds lined at the parking lot entry gates for Vans Warped Tour San Antonio. In pink converse, pink socks and pink bandanna, he entertains the perspiring patrons with a bright pink megaphone and homemade sign.
It's the final Warped Tour, and the energy is palpable. I'm here to meet, photograph and interview a select few artists and otherwise attempt to enjoy the 24th and final leg of the Warped Tour franchise. With the release of Harrison's flawless EP just days prior, the pink-clad rocker is at the top of my list.
July 2, 2018
I was introduced to The Kents in early 2017 at hometown function celebrating arts, music and culture in small-town Ontario. There to represent what the region could offer, they performed a three-song medley that stamped their act indelibly in my music-blogger agenda. Originating from a high school music class project, Freddy, Warren and Luke dove into the music world after college. They solidified their sound with the addition of Peterborough drummer Tanner Pare and released a debut EP Waking in 2016. I met them shortly thereafter; I was smitten, an instant fan of their thoughtful, genuine anthems.
I was thrilled to learn they'd perform at this summers' Sound of Music Festival in Burlington ON Canada. On a last-minute whim, and after a heavy week of travel, work and photography in Los Angeles, I caught a flight to Toronto for the weekend. DRiFFt needed a taste of The Kents. The boys had graciously granted permission for me to join them at SOM. Woefully under-prepared (as every blog-worthy trip is), I hit LAX at 3am with camera bag and suitcases in tow.
June 26, 2018
With blue skies and eager anticipation, Team dRiFFt made the trek to Houston to attend the long-awaited and much-anticipated Love Street Music Festival hosted by Karbach Brewery. Little did they know, the day would end in deluge, seeking shelter in a makeshift sub-VIP cavern, lamenting the lost opportunity to rock out with their favorite New York indie pop alt-rock superstars.
Camera-in-hand, I find myself perched overlooking a sea of colorful, beer-infused tattooed, dreadlocked punk rockers roused by a pink mohawked sh*t-disturber with an infectious grin. A T-rex makes his way through the crowd, headed for the circle pit, fist-pumping those tiny arms as he goes. The energy is palpable and the brew is flowing… I must be at Punk In Drublic Music Festival.
Rock sensation Greta Van Fleet blew into Austin this week as part of a whirlwind tour schedule spanning the U.S. Despite throwing down a midweek show with suspect weather forecast, a Sold-Out Stubbs Waller Creek was packed to the hilt with rowdy fans early on. It’s rare to see such a wide and varied demographic in one crowd. From giddy teen girls adorned in floral 70’s festival frocks to grizzled vintage rockers in their 60s and 70s, Greta clearly holds wide appeal.
Team dRiFFt managed to squeak in an afternoon at the Austin Reggae festival to see Austin locals Lion Heights perform on the big stage. We passed a stone-faced police sentry at the door (pun intended), who couldn’t hide his disinterest in guarding the sole acre of Texas where weed is briefly legal(-ish). The Jamaican-themed festival was heartily alternative and predictably green, with a family vibe, a smattering of ravers and even a few real, live hippies.
Weeks ago, a friend proposed attending a Texan rodeo to see a Californian alt rock-band in the round. What else do you say to a request like that, but “yes please!”? I found myself digging out the daisy dukes and cowboy boots. I couldn’t skip the opportunity to bear witness as Young the Giant blew up a cow-chasin country crowd. We actually arrived in time to witness these cowboys in full revelry - the bull riding and calf roping were certainly an interested precursor to a giant Dodge dually hauling a folded-up circular stage to the center of the dirt arena
My inner thirteen-year old teenyboppin’ fangirl would be thoroughly impressed to learn that I’d land in the pit of an intimate SXSW show, photographing none other than the Hanson boys themselves. All grown up and still rocking; a refined version of their teenage selves but still bringing infectious pop tunes to the masses. This time, the crowd is a little less screaming teenage girl and a little more respectful adult fan; regardless we garner surprising enthusiasm and a great many “woos” from the crowd. There are some hardcore fans lined up against the barricade sporting (now) vintage Hanson tees from the 90’s. Supporting the John Lennon Come Together for Education day at The Belmont during Austin’s famed South By Southwest Festival, the Hanson boys brought a simple yet satisfying set of old and new favorites.
I didn’t quite know what to expect being sent on assignment to cover what was described as the “mariachi metalheads.” As always I set off with my camera and an open mind. But I was secretly concerned I’d shoot and escape as quickly as possible. I’d heard the name, but with no previous experience in the “genre,” I was a little surprised to learn that Metalachi has a loyal and very significant following.
Here you'll find archived band, festival and concert stories... plus blog entries from Team dRiFFt as they travel, photograph, interview and adventure!