Just a heads up. I’ve divided this entry into two parts, the first being tonight’s post, the second following sometime in the next few days. I’ve got a couple of Chemical Brothers shows to attend the following two days, and my work schedule is as busy as ever. So part two will happen when it happens. But hopefully that means by the weekend and not next week. So let’s get started.
Goldenvoice, who’s the prolific promoter of multiple live shows across Southern California, including the high profile festival Coachella, and the now defunct FYF Fest, has hinted at launching new festivals for the L.A. region. Recently, meaning today, they announced the Pasadena Daydream fest, featuring The Cure, and a number of artists curated by frontman Robert Smith, including the Pixies, Mogwai, Chelsea Wolfe, The Joy Formidable, and The Twilight Sad, to name a few. I’m very much looking forward to that one.
Anyway, I bring all this up because tonight’s post concerns another festival they’re hoping to hold annually, titled Just Like Heaven, intentionally referencing The Cure’s seminal “pop” song. JLH was a two stage, one day affair, held at the Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach earlier this month on May 4th. Like many smaller, non-Coachella scale fests, this one stuck to a specific theme/genre/era, specifically the early to mid ’00s. It feels kind of weird saying that, because the ’00s don’t really roll off the tongue too smoothly, nor does it seem all that long ago. But it’s at least 15 years that’s passed, so that’s a hefty chunk of time.
Headliners were Phoenix, Beach House and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which I’ll feature in the second, yet to come, post. And I can say right now, all were as great as any fan of the above would expect. And for the non-believers, they certainly made an airtight case for future listens. I’m not the biggest Phoenix fan, but I loved their show. So I’ll be giving them another chance.
Tonight, I’m going to focus on everyone else on the bill. And there were quite a few, which thankfully, had minimal, if any overlap between sets. Although, in saying that, there was the challenge of making it from stage to stage, as there was no downtime between performances. I think I clocked 7 or 8 miles of walking for the day, just trying to keep up with the literally non-stop music marathon, traversing the single tunnel connecting the two stage areas. To give you an idea, check this out …
Navigating the tunnel @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park on 05.05.19.
There was a point somewhere in the tunnel’s mid-section where the low frequency bass from each stage overlapped, producing a surreal rumble. It was like crossing a mystical, mind-boggling threshold that shook your insides and rattled your brain, not to mention your ears.
My day started with Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John. I caught these guys at FYF in 2016, and found them entertaining, yet slightly too indie pop for my tastes. But there’s one song I liked, which I completely forgot about, until I heard it again as I was entering the festival grounds. It’s catchy as hell, and it’s called “Young Folks,” featuring a fair bit of whistling, some stripped down percussion, and a breezy carefree attitude.
I filmed this one as I was walking towards the main stage, a.k.a. the Like a Dream stage. Yup, The Cure theme was apparent and pervasive. But the surroundings were divine, situated on the Long Beach waterfront, surrounded by the harbor and the Queen Mary, making for a cozy, sunny, relaxed start to the day. Of course, by nightfall, all of those laid-back qualities were jettisoned by the massive crowd packed into the confined space. But for starters, this was nice.
Peter Bjorn and John perform “Young Folks” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
Peter Bjorn and John:
Next up was the Australian indie electro disco dance act Miami Horror, who performed on the second stage, a.k.a. the Strange as Angels stage, continuing The Cure motif.
I’ve always liked these guys. They’ve got tons of energy, fully embracing their ’70s stylings with humor, grace, and camp. They also sound pretty darn good live, especially considering they had one of the earlier, unenviable daytime slots to work their colorful polyester magic. Surprisingly, or I should say thankfully, they filled it well. I first saw these guys back at the Roxy in 2015, and thoroughly enjoyed their sunny soulful grooves in an intimate evening venue. So hearing them confidently fill-out a larger outdoor afternoon festival stage was quite refreshing and encouraging.
The first track they performed was “Leila,” which is still fresh in my mind from Poolside’s Teragram show in December. That SoCal act remixed Miami Horror’s original, and included it in their set. You can check that out here.
Miami Horror also did a couple of classics, “Real Slow,” which is one of my favorites, and “Sometimes,” which a lot of my friends like. I happened to record both of those, as well as “Leila.” Of course, they played a lot more material than that. But I wasn’t going to sit around and film everything.
Miami Horror perform “Leila” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
Miami Horror perform “Real Slow” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
Miami Horror perform “Sometimes” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
Moving on, and two tunnel crossings later, I ventured back to the main stage to catch San Fernando Valley’s She Wants Revenge. These guys play L.A. at least once a year, usually at the Cloak & Dagger fest, which was founded by member Adam Brevin. And they still sound solid, with Justin Warfield’s vocals remaining as deep, dark and brooding as ever.
She Wants Revenge tends to skew towards the coldwave, sticking to the shadows with moodier and gothic-tinged melodies. I’ve got one to feature here, titled “Tear You Apart,” which kinda speaks for itself. It’s also featured in the opening episode of “American Horror Story: Hotel,” for the uninitiated. I just like this one because it’s so over the top menacing, with a really stripped down rhythm and a non-stop vocal barrage, which gives me a blissful anxiety just trying to keep up with it.
She Wants Revenge perform “Tear You Apart” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
She Wants Revenge:
Another trip through the tunnel, and back to second stage, lead me to Athens, Georgia export Washed Out, who’s chillwave concoctions have long been a favorite in my playlist rotations. Washed Out is one of those acts that started as a DIY bedroom act from Ernest Weatherly Greene Jr., matured into a fully fledge band, which I had the pleasure of seeing many years ago, then later scaled back to a synth-based three-piece with live percussion. I do still prefer his full band era, which I think featured five or six musicians on stage. But this scaled down approach works well, too.
I just like the chilled vibrations of the Washed Out sound, which I welcome in whatever live capacity I can hear them. And out in the middle of Long Beach Harbor, their downtempo sound seems to feel comfortably at home. The only thing missing is a wide-open beach and a few salted margaritas.
Washed Out played a handful of selections, a few of which are featured below. They opened with the airy “New Theory,” and continued with “Feel It All Around,” which sounds just like its title suggests. They also performed earlier classics “Eyes Be Closed” and “Amor Fati,” which is only a partial recording, because I had a couple of tall douche-y guys move in front of me, blocking my view. I’m pretty tolerant of people out to have a good time, but some of them are just downright annoying. You know what I’m talking about. But back on topic, and more in tune with Washed Out’s mellow vibes … check out these selections.
Washed Out perform “New Theory” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
Washed Out perform “Feel It All Around” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
Washed Out perform “Eyes Be Closed” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
Washed Out perform “Amor Fati” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
I think around this point, I took a time out and skipped half of Miike Snow in favor of some afternoon lunch. I wanted to check out The Faint’s set on a full stomach. I actually caught the tail end of a previous show at the last and final FYF, and sort of became a backseat fan, never actively seeking them out, but always enjoying their music whenever it came around.
Funny thing is when I used to be a broadcast designer for G4, a cable-based video game network back during the mid ’00s, I had to design poster graphics for The Faint. But being a former self-absorbed, artsy-fartsy designer of the times, I never actually gave them a fair listen. That was a mistake on my part. But I guess timing is everything, and the time is now … at least, for me.
The Faint’s a wacky little electro indie rock act, that’s got tons of energy, skews a little on the industrial and goth tips, but also rolls with a lot of punk-pop sensibility. They’re also from Omaha, Nebraska, so there’s that. It’s eclectic stuff, and blasts off the stage when performed live. Below are “Paranoiattack” and “Agenda Suicide,” which are two of their more popular tunes, and also happen to be the tracks I remember catching at FYF back then.
The Faint perform “Paranoiattack” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
The Faint perform “Agenda Suicide” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
I’ve already covered MGMT on this blog, and this particular track as well. You can revisit that here, if you’re at all interested. But “Electric Feel” is such an iconic indie anthem, that I felt alright with another inclusion. I don’t think I need to say anything more than that. Plus, I’m already exceeding my typical lengthy wordcount by a wide margin. By the way, is anybody still reading this?
MGMT perform “Electric Feel” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
I’m going to wrap up part one of this Just Like Heaven post with NYC’s The Rapture, who I was curious to see, because earlier in the day, Miami Horror said it was their favorite act they saw at the festival, which also took place the previous day. Plus, I saw them way back in 2004 for The Cure’s Curiosa Festival, which I don’t remember at all. And strangely, there’s The Cure again. They seem to be everywhere today.
Anyhow, The Rapture also turned out to be one of favorites from the fest. Although, I could easily see how these guys might annoy some people. Luke Jenner’s vocals aren’t exactly for everyone, somewhere between a screech, howl, and maybe some nails on a chalkboard, depending on your point of view. But on stage, it totally works when set against their funky, dance-oriented, punk-minded rhythm section and high-pitched electro-funk grooves. I mean, these guys were a lot of fun. Not sure if I’d listen to them everyday. Yet given the opportunity to catch them live, sure, no problem.
I just randomly selected three tracks to record during their performance, which were “Killing,” “House of Jealous Lovers,” and perhaps one of my favorite song titles of all time, “Whoo! Alright – Yeah … Uh Huh.” Here they are …
The Rapture perform “Killing” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
The Rapture perform “House of Jealous Lovers” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
The Rapture perform “Whoo! Alright – Yeah … Uh Huh.” @ Just Like Heaven at Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach on 05.04.19.
That wraps up the first part of this post. I think by this point, I traversed the tunnel at least 7 or 8 times. That amounts to me being about as tired as I am right now, after writing this lengthy entry. I hope someone out there enjoyed it. And for those that braved this half, and are still interested, I’ll hopefully get the second half prepped and posted by the weekend. And if you’re not paying attention, I guess it doesn’t matter. But at least for me, one day it will, when I want to revisit all this stuff. I’m rambling, so good night and good fortune. Peace.