At last, winter is finally nearing
its conclusion! After what feels like an eternity (can you believe the Summer
Olympic Games were less than a year ago? Me neither…), spring is finally close
enough to talk about without sobbing. While reasonable people may know spring as the time
when temperatures rise, plants bloom, and insects reemerge from Hell where
they belong, we here in the bowels of the music industry know it exclusively as
the beginning of “festival season.” During this time, seemingly every city
around the world sets aside a weekend or two for great gaggles of wide-eyed music fans to gather to watch and listen to as much music as possible, and also pay too much for bottled water. In addition to all that music and predatorily-priced potable water, there’s the eating, the drinking, the art appreciating and, of course, so many sunburns.
“This is all too much,” you might
hypothetically say, “there are just too many festivals.” If you are inexperienced
with the full wonder of music festivals, you might even say, “I don’t know if I’ll survive even one
of these.” And though, clearly, that is hyperbolic, I am not here to judge you. No,
instead, I am here to help. And, to that end, I’ve prepared a pseudo-survival guide for your
trek to one (or all!) of the very cool festivals listed below, complete with a
brief summary of each, a list of cool bands to see, other things to do in the area, and
some optional, recommended items to make your festival experience a truly
luxurious, Sub Pop-approved one.
Bands to see: Washed Out, Clams Casino, Run the Jewels,
Situated between the Mississippi river and some railroad
tracks, BUKU is an intimate music and arts festival with plenty of great
electronic and hip-hop music. One of the stages is located inside a warehouse used
to build Mardi Gras floats, and it’s only a short walk from the French Quarter,
ensuring that there’s plenty to do while you’re in town. I’d
highly recommend some sunglasses, however. Protecting your eyes is
important - not only from the sun, but also from the flying cockroaches I’ve been told
exist in the southern parts of the United States.
A yearly tradition during which downtown Austin, Texas is overrun for 9 (nine!) whole days, SXSW is a smorgasbord of music and pop
culture, where you can take in practically innumerable performances by bands, plus art, informational panels, comedy, and just about anything else you might want to see. You
will almost certainly need a very
attractive bag to carry all the swag you acquire.
Is there a better way to welcome spring back into your life
than by going to Mexico? I’ve yet to hear a compelling opposing argument, and
set for only one day in the beautiful city of Toluca, the Ceremonia Festival
boasts an impressive lineup full of heavy-hitters. Fun fact: Toluca is the
region from which Chorizo originates. so I’d suggest something
to keep your drink cold while you’re busy stuffing your face.
Coachella is a huge festival, occupying two weekends in an
otherwise scarcely populated valley in central California. There isn’t a whole
lot to do in Indio, but the organizers of this festival have you covered, as
every year they seem to try to go even bigger than they did the prior year.
More bands than you can name, food, art, and interactive exhibits abound at
this staple of the festival scene. You’re probably going to be camping if you
Fortress is a brand spankin’ new festival marking its
inaugural edition. Presented by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, it also
includes a boatload of art by multidisciplinary artists across several venues.
I’d recommend that you bring a
water bottle that won’t let you down, as you’ll need to stay hydrated for
all three days. Fort Worth is also home to the renowned Kimbell Art Museum and
the world’s first and largest indoor rodeo, if such things tickle your fancy.
Some festivals seek to find a location off the beaten trail,
removed from the city and the hustle and bustle. Shaky Knees is not that festival,
as it takes place smack-dab in the middle of Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.
Food is a big draw at this festival (it’s in the South, so this is to be
expected). And, should you seek respite from the sun beyond that provided by this
hat that I dutifully recommend as a source of shade, the excellent Center
for Civil and Human Rights is a short walk away (as is the World of Coca-Cola museum and the Georgia Aquarium).
Is there anything more picture-perfect than a white sand
beach? This is a question asked by many Washingtonians (mostly out of
ignorance, as our beaches feature no sand, only rocks, driftwood, and
disappointment), and attending Hangout Festival, located directly on the
beaches of Gulf Shores, would provide the obvious answer. What
could possibly be better than listening to your favorite bands WITH the ability
to jump straight into the ocean at any time you choose? Bring a
towel, no one likes being wet once they’re done swimming.
And so we arrive at the end of spring, the beginning of June
and the barrier I have arbitrarily decided on for this survival guide.
Sasquatch takes places at a venue called The Gorge, and it is hands-down the
most beautiful place to see live music in Washington. There’s a breathtaking
view behind the main stage, it’s a not-too-long drive from Seattle, and there are plenty of lakes to swim in before you hit the festival. Room for camping is ample
and comfortable; just make
sure to bring a blanket, because it cools off pretty quickly at night and
you don’t want to be the chump freezing your ass off on the lawn.
Uproxx says of “Lightro…” and Watercolor, “Over a wafting cloud of synthy production Ray tackles the grimness of death and the fleeting nature of life, before the track bleeds into Stas’ starlit harmonies….When he starts spitting, you know it’s him immediately. He runs through various cadences and countless rhythms like it’s nothing to change up, but never loses a sense of cohesion in his rapping…In many ways, Watercolor is a distillation of Northwest rap told through the region’s most promising newcomer (see premiere February 21st).”
Porter Ray’s current live dates include a hometown release show on March 8th at Barboza (with guests Jarv Dee, Cam the Mac, and Bruce Leroy), multiple appearances at SXSW March 15th-19th, and Sasquatch Music Festival on May 26th. More live dates coming soon.
Tour Dates + Ticket Links Feb. 26 - Seattle, WA – Crocodile (w/ Pickwick for ACLU Benefit) Mar. 08 - Seattle, WA – Barboza (Watercolor Release Party) Mar. 15-19 - Austin, TX - SXSW May 26 - Quincy, WA - Sasquatch Music Festival
“Lightro…,” and the forthcoming Watercolor, find Ray blending thoughtful portraits of Seattle streets with cathartic biographical accounts of an eventful adolescence and early adulthood, during which his father passed away, his brother was shot and killed, he became a father, and saw his son’s mother go to jail. Possessing insight beyond his years, Ray’s laid back yet captivating style, vivid lyrical vignettes and powerful storytelling are built around a vulnerability and unflinching honesty.
Watercolor is available for preorder in all your favorite formats. LP pre-orders through the Sub Pop Mega Mart and independent retailers will receive the limited Loser Edition on translucent vinyl with magenta swirl in North America & Translucent vinyl in Europe, while supplies last.
Watercolor features original production from B-Roc, Dez Anthony, and Kmtk, and was mixed by Erik Blood. Guest appearances include Cashtro, Stas Thee Boss, Nate Jack, Jus Moni and Black Constellation elders Palaceer Lazaro and Fly Guy Dai of Shabazz Palaces.
What are “The People” saying about Porter Ray? Well, since you asked:
“A star in the making.” [Watercolor] - Uncut
“A natural storyteller, Ray unleashed a series of vivid mixtape portraits of his locale’s druggy highs and lows that painted him as a new school Nas with the lyrical slickness of Roc Marciano. The street-wise intellect certainly lets his slightly off-pitched voice do most of the heavy lifting over the stuttering spacey synthetics, phased keys and warped Rhodes of B-Roc’s atmospheric production.” [Watercolor, 4/5] -MOJO
“As a rapper, Porter’s storytelling skills drive his lyrical content. He tries to paint pictures, never sounding over excited or too energetic, opting for beats which create unique moods….with his effortlessly smooth tone and considered lyricism, Porter carries himself with striking presence and wisdom.” [Watercolor] - Crack Magazine
“Ray is Seattle to the bone, continuing the tradition of Sea-Town rappers with malleable flows and unorthodox sounds that bend along with them….The first taste of his album is a posse cut of sorts featuring Shabazz Palaces,Palaceer, and Castro. They all spit complicated rhyme schemes over a hollowed-out soundscape with dry 808 drums and shimmering, space-age synths reminiscent of THEESatisfaction.” [“Sacred Geometry”] - Stereogum
“Seattle rapper Porter Ray shares another hazy and seductive gem from his debut…“Arithmetic” showcases Porter’s golden voice and effortlessly vivid flow over a dreamy, immersively narcotic beat, elevated by spectral siren calls from the great Stas Thee Boss (formerly of THEESatisfaction) and anchored by a crucial assist from revered Seattle MC Infinite.” [“Arithmetic”] - Gorilla vs Bear
“On the first track from the Seattle native’s forthcoming Watercolor, Porter leads the song with melodic cadences and descriptive verses. Here, he and his collaborators all highlight the narratives that make up this holy equation.” [“Sacred Geometry”] - The FADER
Sub Pop Records in Seattle, WA is offering a grand total of $15,000 worth of college scholarship money to three eligible high school seniors. There are three scholarships—one for $7,000, one for $5,000 and one for $3,000. As longtime and proud losers ourselves, we’re exceedingly happy to be able, in some small way, to help further the education of art-enthused misfits from the NW.
Applicants must be a resident of Washington or Oregon, and a graduating senior on your way to full-time enrollment at an accredited university or college. We are looking for applicants who are involved and/or interested in music and/or the creative arts in some way. However, you do not need to be pursuing an education in the arts.
To apply you must submit an essay, one page or less, using any combination of the following questions as a guide (or write something completely your own, be inspired and creative!). Please list the school you are graduating from and the school you plan to attend in the fall at the top of your essay along with your contact information.
- What are you doing in the arts/music field in your community?
- What does being a Sub Pop ‘Loser’ mean to you?
- What are your influences and/or who inspired you to become involved in the arts?
- Describe your biggest failure and explain how it has brought you closer to your goal(s).
- Discuss a special attribute or accomplishment that sets you apart.
- How has your family or community background affected the way you see the world?
Applicants are strongly encouraged to send digital links and/or provide hard copies of their artwork along with their essay (we have never had a winner who submitted only an essay). However, please be aware that Sub Pop will not return any of this material, so please don’t send originals. Sub Pop will give equal opportunity to all applicants who fit the criteria outlined above. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, March 22nd.
Please send all submissions and attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, March 22nd. We will announce the scholarship winners on April 3rd.
With a handful of dark and rainy months still ahead of us, now’s
the time to curl up in front of the fire with a good book. Thanks to its
fruitful history and multi-talented roster, there is an abundance of books closely
tied to the Sub Pop family that rocks just as hard as your favorite TAD album.
Here are just a few of our preferred picks from here at the Sub Pop Airport Store!
Bruce Pavitt’s Sub
Pop USA: The Subterranean Pop Music
Anthology, 1980-1988 is a one-stop shop for everything you’d ever want
to know about the formation of Sub Pop, Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger
Makes Me a Modern Girl is a thoughtful and inspiring memoir
highlighting her experiences in Sleater-Kinney, while the graphic novel Black Hole by Charles Burns heavily
influenced La Luz’s most recent album Weirdo
Shine. (Additionally, Charles Burns contributed illustrations for Sub Pop
in our early days and is most visible on our Sub
Pop 200 compilation!)
To make your book reading experience even richer, we’ve
compiled the accompanying list of some of our favorite book and record pairings that will surely satisfy even the most ferocious appetite…
Melbourne’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever just shared their cheeky new video for ”Julie’s Place,” the first single off their forthcoming EP (and Sub Pop debut), which we here at Sub Pop are stoked to release later this Spring.
True story: After the band spent their video budget on an idea that didn’t work out ($$¯\_(ツ)_/¯$$), they decided to film singer/guitarist Fran Keaney mowing his lawn on a Saturday morning. This simple idea actually ended up being much more in the band’s utilitarian style. So in a sense, out of defeat of an excess of options came a lean opportunity to do something more truthful.
[Photo Credit: Rubin Utama]
“Julie’s Place” levels up on everything that made Talk Tight such an immediate draw. It’s about being young and dumb but full of bravado. Sprinting guitars mimic singer Keaney’s pangs of heartache, his awkwardly sensual lyrics calling to mind the chaos and confusion of being around someone you can’t get off your mind.
You could (and should) feel the same about this band; follow Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever everywhere in the known universe… via Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Here at the ass-end of 2016, it’s a little tough to deny that this has been an inordinately trying year. A brief and sadly incomplete list of the events that brought us together to cry, reflect, regain composure, and then cry again would include the death of Bowie, the Orlando nightclub shooting, the death of Leonard Cohen, the Ghost Ship fire, and… Well, the list goes on. Enough so that the world actually does kind of seem like it’s a crumbling gingerbread cookie right on the fragile edge of oblivion. We should (and, we very much hope, will!) all do what we can to respond to these challenges, and those that are sure to come.
There are also, it’s worth remembering, some things to celebrate from 2016. And, some of those very things are compiled in Sub Pop’s Best of 2016 collection, which many of us here at the Airport Store contributed to, and which can be found here:http://bestof2016.subpop.com/.
Here, also, is a summary of all the neat holiday items we started carrying at the Airport Store that just may provide a welcome distraction from the horrifying chaos that is modern times:
The Ventures’ Christmas Album (CD)
The New Possibility: John Fahey’s Guitar Soli Christmas Album (CD)