"I worry that not everyone in LA knows how to really live–folks get obsessed with the wrong things and can't focus on making the best work we can. I wish I could sit down with each of you and tell you about what I've seen and felt and done to your face. That's why I like to throw shows and events, because I used to wish we could all rent a warehouse or a venue, and hear these songs together in one place. Let me tell you: These people know how to live. They have meaningful experiences and want to share them with you. I want to walk you through what I found out about them, what I've seen about them, and why we're lucky to have them. Curation doesn't happen in a museum. It doesn't happen in a vacuum. And the person doing it isn't cooler than you are. If you live well, and want to share, it happens on its own. For that reason, I'm so grateful to Asymmetric for getting to share these with you."
Soaked // Probably my favorite local band. Steve's voice has a fire breathing, living intensity. The closest any local band I know of has come to pulling off the full Radiohead–fully sounding like themselves live, right in front of you. Maybe a little better.
Window // A very good friend. I like left turns in playlists. I like to be kept guessing. This is what his work also has the effect of doing, even as one man. He's playing Treehouse Festival later this month.
Salvation Mountain // We enter the desert/weird phase. I don't drive anymore, but when I got my driver's license as a kid I would drive out past Palm Springs and wander the mountains and desert surrounding us. I found this place on my own on a cold morning in January when the citrus fields were covered in frost, and I was supposed to be running errands back on the home front. Picture a bleak ground and a bright sky.
Taking Refuge with Strangers // Even longer, slower, bleaker. Sometimes when you're desert driving in east California there's straight paths and you do 90. This song is for the narrowness and excitement of twisting through slot canyon roads at slower speed.
Window Room // When Ray and I met at a show we understood each other right away. This does not happen often. We're playing our EP release with them next month in the arts district. This song floats like a solar halo on a high cloud. Killer chorus too.
Good Enough // Have you seen them play live? Haile is one of the best frontpeople in town. There's an intensity behind her calmness and a general approach to living that I wish I had. Every time I see them, bump into them or tell folks about them (happens quite often), it's because I wish I could help them as much as I can.
We Are the Future // Another left turn because not everything can be wide open spaces. Sometimes the crush of other people, of breathing and sweating, meets futuristic optimism and blinding light. Everyone on this list has a great live presence, but none have as much flash. In person, he is kind and warm to his many fans.
Badlands // As warm as NKRiot is in person; on stage, Smoke Season are chilling. Their charm comes from being dangerous. It's inspirational to watch.
All the Way // We came up with these guys; they went by a different name years ago, and we would play these weird little dives and halls in Pasadena and Amplyfi a few times. They've found themselves a great, disciplined business behind the scenes and charismatic, fresh live show centered around big, driving songs.
The Tug of War // Michael Long plays out a lot by himself, and a lot of people don't do well under that pressure, but he can really, really play. I think this will probably change when he's ready. He works on an emphatic, passionate vocal craft and never takes a song off. I'm really excited for his record, not just because of these [reasons], but because he's done a great job refreshing a lot of the intense guitar/vocal styles we grew up with that needed updating.
I Will Survive // We met at The Study a few months back and we knew right away we had to have Tamba play at our annual June Gloom festival in The Valley. We just got along so well with him and figured at some point we'd have to collaborate. Except now we're sitting on a bunch of ideas, and I don't even know what do with them all. Watch this dude.
New Heart // Really great arranging and great live shows. The songs are as diverse as their background, and they play out all the time.
The Weather // I guess this is the big hit in this lineup? We found out about them from KCRW and then got to chatting a little on Instagram. There's a reason they're beloved; it's because the songs are arranged great, and they are still down to earth. The more we succeed, the more down to earth we should be. My values in LA are that you can't get anywhere without your work and the support of your fans. Not everyone you encounter will have those. When you do, it's such an exciting moment.
War // We played The Study with these guys a few months back and sometimes at 3 in the morning, swap messages looking for insight in the journey of lead singing. It's all about champagne and whiskey and beautiful people, of course, and never about leads, leadership, or what friendship means in a seedy town. This song is about peace. This song is about looking inward. And all those kind of values go hand in hand.
$5000 a Week // I am so lucky to say I have known Jack well for years. We had a lot of school friends. He wrote this one, I think, about living in NYC before he moved back. It's a groaning grit of harsh reality set over a relentless, melancholic groove. It breaks open with the sunshine you can't keep down. I always feel like it's about the conflict between our city and theirs. And what we do to keep on going.
Run 'n Hide // This is the youngest feeling, most intense song in this collection. These guys play all the freakin' time. House parties, warehouse shows, LA, IE, OC, just crushing it, and they have the chops to show for it and a whole army of screaming fans who know every word. We all wish we had fans like that. We all wish we could be believers like that. That symbiosis you feel at shows is the best part of ourselves. We could all use more.