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NO, DWNTWN, Cayucas, Fool's Gold At The Jubilee Music And Arts Festival, Saturday June 8th 2013

NO at the Jubilee Music and Arts Festival

On Saturday afternoon, I arrived just in time for NO’s set on the Sunset stage, a band that I discovered during a very crowded residency at the Satellite a year and half ago, and that I have seen a couple of time since. Frontman Bradley Hanan Carter still has this deep baritone voice so characteristic of their music, which also has some definitive anthemic qualities,… you have to realize that these people have the ambition to make ascending soaring pop in the vein of U2 or Arcade Fire… and they have also been compared to The National a lot. They are still a very young band, formed just a few years ago without even a full-length album out yet, so I can’t predict for sure if their career will be ascending too, who could predict such a thing, there are so many talented people playing music in Los Angeles!  However, their catchy soaring choruses sure have the arena potential.





On the same stage, I also caught the trio DWNTWN, fronted by singer Jamie Leffler, and if two of them were wearing cowboy hats and had a sort of countrish appearance, their music was mostly synth dream pop animated by Leffler’s hushed and sweet vocals. It was quite dancey too, like a sort of power-dance-pop, and the sexy blonde, who was wearing a lace white dress, was taking languorous poses while dancing to the slow beats. Interestingly, her bandmate Robert Cepeda was playing guitar, something you would not really imagine when you listen to their synth-electro-pop. They covered ‘Big Jet Plane’ by Angus and Julia Stone and I read they also do a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m On Fire’, something you would not necessary expect from their glittering dance-pulse-synth-pop which seemed to be ready for a remix.





Later on, Cayucas drew a crowd around the same stage, and the guy on my left was apparently a big fan of the Santa Monica band, as he knew all the lyrics of each song! They really made people dance with some island-exotic rhythms. At first. I thought, here we go again, another band of white people who play some African pop! But the music was pleasant, drenched in California sunshine with a Caribbean vibe, and even a touch of Vampire Weekend? Yeah, listen to the punchy and bright ‘East Coast Girl’, and let me know if Vampire Weekend isn’t in your mind after a few seconds! Even the song that I recorded (‘Bigfoot’, below) had this same vibe, and their set always stayed on the gentle and not-too-loud-and-soft side with lots of colorful ‘ooohs’ and ‘heeeys’ à la Harry Belafonte, echoing vocals, handclaps and tropical-y rhythms, that triggered an active weed smoking from all sides of the crowd. This summer thing (a title of a song) was totally working, it sounded almost too familiar and honestly very cute. Before singing ‘High School Lover’ singer-songwriter Zach Yudin told the crowd it was about a girl he had a crush on when he was in high school who wrote him letters. He added he never answered them back and asked the crowd if he should tell the woman, now married, that he wrote this song about her. ‘Noooo’ screamed the guy who knew all the lyrics, but I am not sure he was right, I would think about it twice if I were this girl, or her picture may end on the cover of their next album…




Fool’s Gold

Fool’s Gold was next and a way to stay in this same Africanized vibe, although the first songs they played may have been less Africanized than I expected from what I remember (I had effectively seen the Los Angeles collective several times before) but their last songs were full of these African glittering guitars, and bouncy melodies. If their sound was not a surprise for me, they made the crowd grow bigger around the Sunset stage, playing their peculiar mix of throbbing Arabic-afro pop with saxophone and percussion, sometimes going into mad psychedelic guitar solos, sometimes adding krautock grooves. All their songs were tuneful and hybrid, like the offspring of western pop aesthetics and exotic rhythms, like another visit into the very populated universe of world music,… I guess the western world has had a fascination and an obsession with world music for some time and this fascination keeps on giving bands like Fool’s Gold, which are much closer to Touareg band Tinariwen than Vampire Weekend, but made people dance the same way.

Fool’s Gold

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