To focus is to settle. To arrange experience into molecular parts, packable, like boxes arranged in a closet. To focus is to let go. To release arbitrary details and clip onto a steady perch, in tune with the unshakeable light at the end of an unbreakable tunnel.
Unsure what the hell I’m talking about? Let music be your guide. Listen to Cautious Clay, who deftly points out that it’s, “matter over mind if we’re being honest.”
And of course there’s Bonobo, whose new remix personifies the hair raising moment of awareness, the tactile sensation of zeroing in on a target.
The last four seats in The Greek were to the far left of the stage, fifty yards up past the pit. After a quick-spot, we climbed the amphitheater stairs, shuffled past a couple dressed in all-black, and staked our claim. Below, a seething crowd suddenly came to life, incensed by the feral, weaving drumbeat of Glass Animals’ opener, Life Itself.
We quickly established good community relations with our neighbors, offering what little supplies we had – a green tea bottle with clear tequila, two limes and a pinch of the devil’s lettuce. In return we received cigarettes and more space, a rare commodity that night.
All of us were eager for a familiar groove that would validate our ticket expense, a reenactment of countless private interactions. But that night the unexpected ruled, most notably, Cane Suga, an outburst of boot-stomping trap that liquefied body parts and set in motion a series of amphitheater antics.
We’re known for being a bit long winded in our write ups of live shows. To give us an unfiltered, top line breakdown of the Sylvan Esso show at Lagunitas Brewery, we turned to one of our musical correspondents, QuarterLifeCrisis, to give us his thoughts.
First day of school year
No plan, left two behind
Pre food beers
Tiny venue w no stage
Local vibe/ split audience
Asian girl culk shirt possibly rolling
Drunk in and out puke
A lot of knob twisting outta that guy, she’s got a killer voice
Are they in love
Scratch the surface of Francis Lung’s A Selfish Man and you’ll find a clear message. A directive unearthed from his past: the decision to leave his band, WU LYF, and go solo.
Whirling guitars and fuzzy synths create a merry-go-round of echo and delay peddles. It’s dreamy and upbeat, but like his shoe gaze counterpart, Wild Nothing, a smoldering emotionality pierces through, and Francis Lung confronts the unknown.
They say you can’t come back
S’why I never left
They say you can’t come back
Babe that’s why I never left
Nick Hakim. Nick Hakim. Nick Hakim. I kept seeing the name everywhere. Cymbal. Spotify. @nprmusic. The New Yorker. A Pitchfork article “The Eclectic Soul Music of Nick Hakim” gave me a sense of the man, but not the music.
Like anyone who’s late to the party, I quickly took stock to see if there was anything I could grapple onto. Some way of staking my claim.
I half-listened to Hakim’s top three songs on Spotify (I Don’t Know, Cuffed, Papas Fritas), skipping ahead more than once. The aesthetic was tantalizing but the sound didn’t connect. I dropped it.
Pre-Outside Lands (a wonderful and hedonistic blur of beer, trampled grass and Future Islands), I flopped onto my bed, fully clothed, shoes dangling over the edge.
Work was done for the week. Music, loud and all-encompassing was streaming off my girlfriend’s phone. I listened to whatever was playing, and began to drift, my face scrunched into the crisp, white sheets.
The lack of control was freeing. I hovered for a few minutes. Nothing spiritual about it. Just an absence of mental chatter – freewheeling space – Aladin hovering over a city of lights, absorbed in the current of whatever was playing, which upon stretching to turn over her phone was Nick Hakim’s soul music.
At the heart of Nutrition’s remix of Ruby Haunt’s Freeway Crush is a feeling of vulnerability. An audible yearning for something majestic. Something lasting.
The original, by Laguna based Ruby Haunt, is in fact full of heart-ache. With a drum kit, Stranger Things-esque keyboard, and plodding bass line, Ruby Haunt creates a watery landscape. We’re a child kicking a pebble on a rainy day, contemplating something larger than homework.
Nutrition lays on the accelerator a bit, adding the tap tap of a cymbal, draws out the synths and pulls the song out of adolescence and into the present – to focus on the person drifting next to you. The romance of driving at night. Hugging turns. Flashing lights. The odd notion that, “driving is a spectacular form of amnesia.”