Monday, 22 September 2014

Best and Worst of the Sunset Strip Music Festival

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The Sunset Strip Music Festival took place this weekend, and it was the most diverse incarnation yet, with more DJs, dancing and funky beats than ever, including a hip-hop stage curated by Murs. Still, the festival's heart remained with the L.A. rockers.

The festival has had a troubled few years, and Sunset Boulevard itself is in transition. The event reflected this. Here are our picks for the best and worst of the weekend. The Best

Jane's Addiction Jane's Addiction's Saturday night's performance of their seminal major label debut Nothing's Shocking was everything it should have been: intense, exuberant and wistful as ever. They ordered the tracks just like the record, giving fans a track by track flashback. Like so many times before, a shirtless Dave Navarro seduced the crowd, Stephen Perkins slapped his skins into submission, and ringeader Perry Farrell pranced. He pulverized his menacingly poetic lyrics, stuff he wrote decades ago, but played like the first time. Bassist Chris Chaney did a good job of holding down the essential Jane's basslines, even if we would have loved to see orginal member Eric Avery. Farrell talked about belonging to L.A. and, Saturday night, Jane's Addition really did. They were, are, one of us.

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Empire of the Sun Who knew Empire of the Sun's cosmic stage spectacle had so many fans? Their gilded freakshow blew us away with its elaborate presentation, which featured flashy dancers, intergalactic props, incredible costuming and rave-y visuals. But we were also surprised by the crowd, even more massive than for Jane's the night before. Fusing electronic dance with a Gary Numan-esque new wavey vibe, an Empire concert is like nothing else you'll see live right now.

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Murs' SSMF has slowly been evolving every year. This year saw a major shift, with an entire hip-hop stage, curated by Murs. It featured an array of rappers and turntable rousers. In many ways, it was the most fun to hang at. The two most memorable sets came from Saturday's headliner Riff Raff, who worked an androgynous Jeff Spicoli surfer look and got the crowd (half of which was on stage with him) to chant about cocaine and partying. Half the time he was getting his hair did by a cornrow specialist on stage.

The next day, RA the Rugged Man offered another set to love and hate, as he called out the dumb trendy outfits and fat people in the crowd, threw water at us (and got our camera wet) and was all around over the top. Still, his rhymes sounded fierce and when he got in everyone's faces, including our own, we dug it. It wasn't pleasant, but it was kinda punk.

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Club Rubbing The Roxy and The Whisky featured an array of bands, and while we recognized many of the names on the schedule, this year yielded some bold discoveries too. At the Roxy it was PPL MVR, a weird sort of Chewbacca-garbed crew doing trippy, primitive psych rock. They were utterly mesmerizing and it wasn't all about the fuzzy frocks either.

At the Whisky, Cattle Decapitation, which our friends described as 'vegan death metal,' lived up to their name, pretty much twisting our noggins off like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Which was fitting because the vocals sounded exactly like a hungry, vegan Satan. The Whisky also offered a small nod to the glam metal heyday of the Strip with a Saturday closing night set by LA Guns, who went on late, with a lineup we didn't recognize, save for the singer. Even so, the guys were smokin' on stage. Say what you will about the Whisky, but the sound there is always still top-notch.

VIP Parties Even though the weather was less brutal outside than it's been, having a place to escape the outdoor hoopla and hustle was welcome. Two hot havens deserve mention. On The Rox, above The Roxy, saw an array of DJs spinning for the actor and hipster sets. Over at Orphic, an upscale rock chic boutique next to the main stage, a VIP rager benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project saw tons of rock stars (members of The Cult and Marilyn Manson) rollicking about, getting massages and snatching up cool clothes for a good cause.

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The Monster Energy Stage Don't get us wrong, there was some real talent on this stage, but even so, the vibe just sort of fell flat compared to the other two stages. For one, it was in an awkward spot, right at the fest's entrance, so it was in your face and too close to the hip-hop stage. Two, the lineup was disjointed. Crosses (featuring Chino Moreno from The Deftones) were too gloomy. Failure was, at least in this environment, kinda just that. The next day, Iration's reggae-infused jams were tight, but strangely too pop for this crowd. And Mayer Hawthorne (who seemed confused about why he was playing there; he dissed the stage sponsor) sounded fine, but probably should have been inside a club. He was all over the place and did a bizarre mash-up of sorts that featured a Backstreet Boys song. It was probably ironic (like his ugly Hawaiian shirt), but still.

The Main Stage We have covered every single SSMF since it first began and for some reason they can never get the layout to work right. Hell, we almost got trampled to death at Motley Crue back in 2011. This year, they had a long partition down the middle of the street leading from the sound booth to the main stage. It did not prevent crowd congestion. It was wasted space, but some drunk gals climbed over it and danced inside. Nobody made them leave. Whatever.

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The Turn Out On the one hand, fewer people in attendance made for a more comfortable experience: less traffic, reasonable lines for food and drink, etc. But there was enough good stuff here to deserve a bigger, better crowd. We're not exactly sure why it didn't sell out. Maybe everyone's fested-out at this point. In all, those who didn't attend missed out on a bodacious block party. Also, we know it's all about the music, but one of the reasons we go to festivals is to people-watch, and this past SSMF could have been way more amusing in that regard. It's nice to evolve, but truth be told, we miss the metal scene.

Like us on Facebook at LAWeeklyMusic @laweeklymusic West Coast Sound's Greatest Hits!The 20 Worst Hipster BandsThe 20 Worst Bands of All TimeThe 10 Biggest Douchebags in Country Music Entities 0 Name: Jane Count: 3 1 Name: L.A. Count: 2 2 Name: Marilyn Manson Count: 1 3 Name: Riff Raff Count: 1 4 Name: Mayer Hawthorne Count: 1 5 Name: Iration Count: 1 6 Name: Sun Count: 1 7 Name: Perry Farrell Count: 1 8 Name: Stephen Perkins Count: 1 9 Name: Sunset Boulevard Count: 1 10 Name: LA Guns Count: 1 11 Name: Cattle Decapitation Count: 1 12 Name: Dave Navarro Count: 1 13 Name: Jeff Spicoli Count: 1 14 Name: Backstreet Boys Count: 1 15 Name: PPL MVR Count: 1 16 Name: West Coast Sound Count: 1 17 Name: Linda Blair Count: 1 18 Name: SSMF Count: 1 19 Name: Farrell Count: 1 20 Name: Eric Avery Count: 1 21 Name: Rox Count: 1 22 Name: Chris Chaney Count: 1 23 Name: Best Jane 's Addiction Jane 's Addiction Count: 1 Related 0 Url: Title: Looking forward, looking back at Sunset Strip Music Festival Description: More than guitars, more than drums and certainly more than the shirt guitarist Dave Navarro characteristically went without, nostalgia was crucial to Jane's Addiction's hometown concert Saturday night in Los Angeles. Fortunately for the band - if not for the rest of us - there was plenty in the air to draw on.

iHeartRadio Music Festival features star

Taylor Swift didn't divulge any more new secrets about her upcoming album when she took the stage at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, but the crowd's enthusiasm about her bouncy new single, 'Shake it Off,' seems to bode well for the new record.

Swift, dressed in a bedazzled, bubble gum pink skirt and top, opened for the 4th annual festival Friday with hits including 'Love Story' and 'I Knew You Were Trouble.' A parade of chart-toppers followed her in the nearly five-hour program, including Coldplay, Usher, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande.

The two-day festival -- an ode to Top 40 music -- continued Saturday with performances by Lorde, Iggy Azalea, Ed Sheeran, One Direction and more.

Friday brought a steady dose of hits ranging from Coldplay's classic 'Clocks' and 'Viva la Vida' to Nicki Minaj's 'Superbass.' Ariana Grande, the former Nickelodeon star whose music has dominated airwaves this summer, performed 'Problem' and other hits in a cat-ear headband and thigh high stiletto boots.

There were a few surprises -- from the Black Eyed Peas came to back up DJ Steve Aoki, who worked in his signature gag by hurling a sheet cake at four volunteers in party dresses and button-downs.

Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy crowd surfed from the comfort of a raft, and Jason DeRulo showed up to perform an unannounced set.

Performances got rowdier as the night went on. Motley Crue's rendition of 'Girls, Girls, Girls' was a frenzy of motorcycles, pyrotechnics and pole dancers. The Zac Brown Band, a country-folk group, covered Queen's raucous 'Bohemian Rhapsody.'

A more poignant moment came in a surprise appearance by Alicia Keys, who performed her new song, 'We Are Here.' A rallying cry for peace, the song encourages listeners, 'let's talk about Gaza ... let's talk about Israel, cause right now it is real.'

Usher closed off the night by bringing a crowd-pleasing special guest on stage -- Chris Brown, who performed his new single, 'New Flame.' Their duet ended with a dance off before Usher slipped off his high tops and lit them on fire, letting them burn for a few moments before a stagehand put them out with a fire extinguisher. Brown, meanwhile, recently released his new album, 'X.'

iHeartRadio takes its name from the music app developed by the broadcasting giant formerly known as Clear Channel Communications. The company announced this week that it was changing its name to iHeartMedia to reflect the success of the iHeartRadio brand.

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Lukas Freeman - Never Look Back by HYPETRAK

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Brad Paisley, Florida Georgia Line to Headline Blue Ridge Music Festival

Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Two of country music's biggest names will join forces to headline a two-day country music festival in Salem, Va., next year. Brad Paisley and Florida Georgia Line have been announced as headliners for the Blue Ridge Music Festival, along with an all-star list of performers.

Joining Paisley and the FGL guys will be the Charlie Daniels Band, Jerrod Niemann, Dustin Lynch, Colt Ford, the Swon Brothers, Clare Dunn and Chris Lane, with more acts expected to be announced shortly.

'This is great news for the entire region,' Carey Harveycutter, Salem's director of tourism, says. 'We can't wait for the festival to return to Salem Stadium, and we're already making plans to enhance the fan experience.'

This is the first year the Blue Ridge Music Festival is extending into two days. All tickets sold will be for both days. Single-day tickets are not available. Prices begin at $99.50, with a VIP experience, which includes VIP bathrooms, free water and soft drinks and a private bar, available for $169.50.

The Blue Ridge Music Festival will be held May 30 and 31, 2015. Tickets will go on sale on Sept. 22. More information, including lodging options, is available here.

NEXT: Top 10 Brad Paisley Songs Entities 0 Name: Blue Ridge Music Festival Count: 3 1 Name: Salem Count: 2 2 Name: Ethan Miller Count: 1 3 Name: FGL Count: 1 4 Name: Paisley Count: 1 5 Name: Va. Count: 1 6 Name: Jerrod Niemann Count: 1 7 Name: Florida Georgia Line Count: 1 8 Name: Brad Paisley Count: 1 9 Name: Chris Lane Count: 1 10 Name: Clare Dunn Count: 1 11 Name: Salem Stadium Count: 1 12 Name: Swon Brothers Count: 1 13 Name: Colt Ford Count: 1 14 Name: Dustin Lynch Count: 1 15 Name: Carey Harveycutter Count: 1 16 Name: Charlie Daniels Band Count: 1 Related 0 Url: Title: One Direction iHeartRadio Music Festival 2014 Description: One Direction ITunes

Stratham Music Festival Delights Outdoor Crowd

The town of Stratham rocked out with its first official music festival on Sunday.

Stratham Hill Park hosted four different bands Sunday for a full day of music. The show kicked off at 11:30 a.m. and featured bands from throughout New England, including the Stratham-based band Kenny Brothers.

Connecticut band The Alternate Routes headlined the local festival. The nationally-known band played a variety of tunes, including their hit song, 'Nothing More,' - written for the people of Newtown, Connecticut, and chosen by NBC for the finale of the Opening Ceremony at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

New Hampshire natives One Hand Free and Seacoast favorites Band of Thieves also took the stage.

Thanks to the warm and dry weather, music fans were able to enjoy the music outdoors. Event organizer Jeff Gallager says the relaxing, fun event is a great way to close out the season.

'This is a free event and it's a great time to just relax, and sit back and enjoy some music on one of the last warm days of summer. We all know fall starts tomorrow so it's the last day to wear your shorts, sandals and pack a picnic lunch,' Gallager said.

Tickets were free of charge. Organizers plan to hold the event again next year.

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Sunday, 21 September 2014

IHeartRadio Music Festival: Lorde, Iggy Azalea and More [Video]

At the iHeartRadio Music Festival on Saturday in Las Vegas, the biggest names in music today performed some of this year's biggest hits. Meghan Trainor was there, as well as 5 Seconds of Summer, Lorde, Iggy Azalea, Eric Church, Paramore and One Direction. Weezer also performed a 5-song set.

Calvin Harris was Saturday night's headliner at the iHeartRadio Music Festival. Ryan Seacrest introduced him. He got the audience pumped up, and blasts of steam shot from the stage. Harris had an amazing light show he put on to accompany the music. Two of the songs he performed are Summer and a new song, which he debuted that night, Blame, sung by U.K. soul singer John Newman. They follow, courtesy of YouTube and iHeart Radio.

In the 2-song set Meghan Trainor performed, she was introduced by actress Hilary Duff, and she wore a black dress and began by sitting on a stool for her first song. But then, when she sang her hit, All About That Bass, she got up and danced along with other dancers as she sang the hit that brought her to the attention of America. The 2-song set follows.

Lorde's performance was another highlight of Saturday night. She was introduced by Sophia Bush. Lorde put on a great show. For some reason, she bent over and flipped her hair back a lot. She had on black and white pants and top and bangles on her wrists, as well as dark red lipstick. When Lorde sang Royals, the feeling in the audience was electric and many people sang along with her and did the refrain. It was 'a different kind of buzz,' in the words of Royals. She had them in the palms of her hands. Her entire set follows.

5 Seconds of Summer are one of the biggest boy bands around. They had the women at the iHeartRadio Music Festival screaming and proclaiming their love of certain band members. Most people in the audience were holding their smartphones up trying to record them. One song that they did was a cover of Katy Perry's Teenage Dream. The entire set follows, and all of these videos are courtesy of the bands and acts as well as YouTube and iHeartRadio.

Iggy Azalea definitely put on an all-out performance at the iHeartRadio Music Festival. She wore a pink, black and purple outfit with stylish black boots. She was lightning-fast with her rapping. He background dancers had on sexy black-and-white costumes. DJ Whiz Kid was also on hand to lend background vocals to the songs. The Fancy singer rocked the night out! What follows is her entire set.

Ed Sheeran has been widely acknowledged as one of today's hottest creative musical forces. His set was yet another highlight during an entire night of highlights, ans special guest Macklemore joined Sheeran onstage during a performance of The Heist. Macklemore had on a leather jacket. They also sang Same Love together and Sheeran performed a mix of Loyal by Chris Brown and a couple of songs by Blackstreet, Don't and No Diggity. Of course, one of the other songs Sheeran sang was The A Team and another was Sing. Check out the entire set below!

Perhaps the biggest-name act on Saturday night at the iHeartRadio Music Festival was One Direction. They have millions of fans all around the world. Many of them were there, singing along to their favorite hits from One Direction. Love them or hate them, they are one of the most popular bands of today. Their entire set from Saturday night follows.

The two-day long iHeartRadio Music Festival was back for its fourth year in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada, the city where the party never stops! There were many highlights on Saturday, but some of them included the sets by Meghan Trainor, Lorde, Ed Sheeran, One Direction, Calvin Harris and Iggy Azalea. As hangovers are nursed this morning and memories are relived, the concert goers eagerly anticipate next year's iHeartRadio Music Festival and wonder how it will top the one of 2014.

Written By Douglas Cobb

Sources:iHeartRadio Festival Official SiteBillboard - 1Billboard - 2

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iHeartRadio fest boasts collabs, covers and cake

LAS VEGAS - Dozens of chart-toppers, including Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Iggy Azalea and Nicki Minaj, crowded into the MGM Grand Garden Arena Friday and Saturday for the fourth iHeartRadio Music Festival. 'You can't believe they're all in one arena,' said Ryan Seacrest, the weekend's host. 'It just doesn't happen.'

Here's what you missed:

Come together. In an unexpected performance Friday night of her new song We Are Here, Alicia Keys encouraged fans to join her campaign for change. Using the hashtag #WeAreHere on social media, Keys hopes to spawn conversation regarding social justice.

'There's so much that we're seeing and so much that we're confused and frustrated about,' Keys said backstage. 'It feels scary. What are we supposed to do about changing the things we see that we don't like?

'Knowing what we want to be here for is a really important thing. Then we can move forward and change the world,' she said. 'We are here for all of us.'

Cake checks, but no sound check. DJ/Producer Steve Aoki has some unusual prep to do before his shows, at which flinging baked goods into the crowd has become a signature move for engaging with fans. 'We have a soundcheck, but we also have a cake check. We have to make sure the cake is soft and fluffy so when I throw it in someone's face, it feels delightful.'

But Train skipped its soundcheck. 'We didn't do one, so it went great!' joked lead vocalist Pat Monahan. 'We got to hang out in our hotel room.' Fans took to Twitter to praise the band's cover of Aerosmith's Dream On after the Saturday night performance.

Old favorites debuted the new. Weezer performed Back to the Shack Saturday night from the group's Everything Will Be Alright in the End album, out Oct. 7. Taking their time (four years) to complete their ninth album was worth it, Rivers Cuomo said backstage. 'It's not about the singles. We wanted to make an album that we and our fans can grow old with.'

It was a team effort. Surprise collaborations and guest appearances were a trademark of this fest. Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy turned out during Aoki's set to promote their pairing on Back to Earth, crowd-surfing on Aoki's inflatable raft.

Backstage, Aoki explained that not all of his props have been as successful as his raft or his cakes. 'In 2009, I brought the Super Soakers. You'd think they'd work, but it turns out, that thin spray isn't a nice feeling. Super Soakers are a no-go.'

Saturday's surprise came when Macklemore took to the stage with Ed Sheeran to perform Same Love. Sheeran suffered some setbacks in soundcheck because of a broken foot pedal but performed a flawless set.

Despite talk that his infidelity single Don't was inspired by Ellie Goulding and One Direction's Niall Horan, Sheeran's remaining tight-lipped. 'I think it's good to have songs be faceless so that you can apply them to your situations,' he said. Laughing at the hype, Sheeran pointed out, 'And does it really make anyone's life any different if they knew what it was about? Would they still enjoy the song?'

CW will air highlights from iHeartRadio Music Festival as a two-night special (Sept. 29 and 30, 8 p.m. ET/PT).

Macklemore (left) and Ed Sheeran attend the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept. 20, 2014, in Las Vegas.(Photo: Theo Wargo, Getty Images for Clear Channel)

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