Fall Break Music Fest

Despite the endless comforts and advantages of living on a cozy, tight-knit, 1200 student college campus in the middle of SoCal, let’s face it: after six weeks of academic stress and weekend extracurriculars, it’s time to take a step back for a second, get in our cars (or our friends’), and leave Claremont—at least for a little while. It’s super important, particularly for freshmen, to get off campus for a bit (regardless of what you do) and explore the greater Los Angeles area. For those of you having that “I have absolutely no idea what to do” moment right now, I have a simple remedy: live music. LA’s potent music culture brings artists in every weekend from around the globe. Moreover, if you choose to go down the live music path this long weekend, (this is merely my recommendation) try steering away from “familiar music.” Part of the live music experience is investing your time in something spontaneous, something that you’re unfamiliar with, and yes, maybe even uncomfortable with.   You might be surprised by what you enjoy.

To help provide a better idea of who’s coming to town this weekend, I’ve posted a brief list of groups, concert times and venues that could be fun to check out; some of you’ve heard of, some you probably haven’t. Whatever the case, remember, be open to the unexplored. I hope I don’t just speak for myself when I say that live music can be an inspirational, transformative experience.

Death Cab For Cutie- Okay, so maybe this isn’t exactly the “new music” experience I was just preaching, because everybody knows these guys. But this one is too good to pass up. Death Cab’s coming to the Fox Theater (just a 15 minute drive away) in Pomona this Saturday, October 15, and everyone who’s ever heard them knows what to expect. Their classic “Pumped-up-kids”-esque story of an indie rock band making it big hasn’t changed the fact that they are truly one of a kind.  Employing an eclectic array of instruments, the Washington-based band has created a niche for itself through a harmonic, synthy sound they can call their own.  Death Cab is probably the safest, most reliable option this weekend considering their notoriety as well as the proximity of the venue.

Blue Scholars- Geo and Sabzi are back. This is another group I know a lot of you know, even though they don’t exactly have Death Cab’s notoriety. We were lucky enough to get them to Pomona last year, and I can say for myself that this was without a doubt the best concert I’ve seen here in Claremont. Their energy, enthusiasm, and genuine happiness to be playing live makes them an excellent group to see live. Another Washington-based group, the Blue Scholars have made a name for themselves in the national rap scene as a socially conscious, “speak truth to power” duo.  I am dying to see these guys again. If you get the chance, make your way to the Key Club in LA this Saturday night, October 15; you won’t be disappointed.

The Hold Steady- Okay, time for a confession. The Hold Steady was without a doubt my favorite band throughout high school.  I’ll be the first person to tell you how eccentric and weird they actually are. First of all, before you keep reading, go search “The Hold Steady” on google images: as you can see, they look way more like a bunch of dudes you’d see creeping around at a yard sale in La Verne than a critically acclaimed punk-indie rock band from Brooklyn. But it was exactly this nuanced, unexpected presentation that drew me to them so much. The experience of seeing them live was so epiphanic. Although most of them are in their late 30’s/early 40’s, they lyrically capture the experience of being a teen better than anyone I’ve ever heard. Moreover, their guitar heavy, Springsteen influenced sound along with their referential, visually dense lyricism makes up for their age.

I digress. If you want a random, unique, or unpredictable experience this weekend, go see The Hold Steady at the Echoplex in LA on Saturday, October 15. It’s much more of a hit or miss kind of experience than the previous two, but as I said, I’m a fan.

Portishead- The final show isn’t actually within the time frame of fall break, but I had to add it. Portishead is a music group from Bristol, England, who’ve had a truly immeasurable impact on alternative rock, soul, and funk for the past 20 years. The influence of their music and style can be seen in groups from Radiohead to The Gorillaz; their synthetic, ambient sound has helped redefine music in a technology-laden age. Unfortunately, they don’t play until Wednesday, October 19th, the day fall break ends, but if you have finished your work, are a big Portishead fan, or just up for a trip, make sure to visit The Shrine Expo Hall next Wednesday night.

While I encourage you to explore and expand your musical boundaries, when in doubt, YouTube these groups; some (or all) of these concerts may just not be your kind of picnic. Think back to the music you listened to in middle school and how different it was.  You never know what you will be listening to years down the road.

Want more fall music? Check out the fall preview by Will Dudding and Erica Bellman, A-Mitch's article on Anthem and the Blind Boys of Alabama Benefit Concert.