Sunday, July 8, 2007

Top 10 California Festivals, 2007

It's summer and that means that festival season is upon us! Hopefully you'll be packing up the car this year and heading out to at least one festival somewhere in California. For the more sedentary types in the Bay Area, see my Top 10 San Francisco Festivals article for the great events in our backyard. For the rest of us, we'll be right there with you, in line at the vending area waiting for my giant egg roll or Java a go-go, partying in the hotels, campsites, and the late-night events. Here is a top 10 list of our favorite California festivals in calendar order starting with the festivals still to come this year.

Reggae on the River/Reggae Rising
Beginning of August (3 days) - Humboldt, CA

California's premier roots and reggae festival with headliners like Ziggy, Damian and Stephen Marley, Fantan Mojah, Collie Buddz and Steel Pulse. The story of Reggae on the River became very interesting this year. After 23 years of holding the annual event at the Dimmick Ranch and French's camp, the founders of the festival mysteriously lost their lease on the venue and subsequently lost the event entirely. People Productions and Dimmick Ranch applied for the lease and were granted permission to throw the event under the new name Reggae Rising. There appears to be some bad blood between the 2 groups, but the festival lives on (kind of) and promises a killer line up this year. If you dig reggae, this is the festival to hit.

Burning Man
Early Sept - Labor Day Week (7 Days) - Black Rock City, NV

Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind. While Burning Man technically takes place in Black Rock City, NV, this is definitely a Californians festival. The event is totally unique in that there is no "planned" or "hired" entertainment, no vending whatsoever and it's located in the absolute middle of no where. Each year, tens of thousands of partiers, performers and artists flock to the desert for a week long "do what you feel" kind of event. Groups of festival veterans create "camps" and each brings it's own unique flavor and artistic slant on what Burning man is to them. The art is out of this world, the music is totally unpredictable and the experience is second to none. This year's theme is Green (of course!).
*Planning ahead is an absolute must since every person is responsible for bringing in their own supplies and surviving on what they have.*

Mid September (4 Days) - Laytonville, CA

Earthdance is a 3 day camp out and celebration for world peace and unity featuring 5 stages of entertainment from jamband to electronica and reggae to folk music. Late night cinemas, speakers forums, global crafts and eco education (what festival is complete without eco education!) and a healing village make this festival very very California. Earthdance is very big on global community and it shows at every corner of the event. This years headliners include Lyrics Born, Medeski Martin and Wood, Ozomatli, Les Nubians, New Monsoon, ALO and many more.

Love Fest
End of September (officially 1 day but parties happen all week long) - San Francisco, CA

Even though we did a piece on San Francisco festivals that talked about Love Fest, it is impossible to write an article about California festivals that does not include Love Fest in it. This is North Americas largest electronica event that attracts close to 100,000 people to the streets of San Francisco for a party that was created in the vision of the Love Parade in Berlin. The party starts with a parade through the streets of SF and ends at Civic Center for a full day of some of the most amazing dj's in the world on the dozens of floats parked around the square. Pre parties and after parties abound and this event ends up being a full week long when all is said and done. Amazing.

Late September (4 Days) - Northern California (Location TBD)

Symbiosis Gathering is a synaesthesia of art, music, transformational learning, and sustainable living integrated into an unparalleled extravaganza of fun under the Northern California skies. With headliners this year including Hallucinogen, Shpongle, Eat Static and Bassnectar, this is gonna be a party under the stars like no other.

End of April (3 days) - Indio, CA

When Coachella started back in 2000, founders Paul Tollett and Rick Van Saten had a vision of creating a festival that drew in massive crowds and showcased the top musical talents in the world. During the first 2 years, the pair lost hundreds of thousands of dollars and Paul nearly lost his house, but somehow the word caught on and the crowds grew. Today Coachella serves as the pinnacle of music festivals perhaps in the entire world. During the 3 days of the festival, 100,000+ music fans head over to the Empire Polo Fields each day in Indio, 20 miles east of Palm Springs in the middle of the desert. Generally considered to be a rock festival, Coachella has an amazingly diverse offering of music including world class DJ's, punk rockers, pop stars, country legends and everything inbetween. Over the course of the 3 days, there are over 120 artists, bands, dj's and comedians scheduled to perform.

Lightning in a Bottle
Mid May (3 days) - Santa Barbara, CA

Lightning in a Bottle is in it's 8th year and is what we would call a "festival with promise." While LIB hasn't yet reached the size of some of the other festivals listed here and the artists that perform are still on the local level, the seeds have been planted and each year the festival grows in popularity. For a glimpse at the Burning Man esque madness, check out the video we shot while at the event in 07. MetroWize presents Lightning in a Bottle

Harmony Festival
beginning of June (3 days) - Santa Rosa, CA

The Harmony Festival brings together eco consciousness, health and healing and music and raps it all up neatly into one of the best California Festivals of the year. Celebrating its 29th year this summer, Harmony festival continues to expand in size and quality. This year it featured 3 stages of music, a full global craft village, 2 exhibition halls for health and wellness, dozens of food and beverage vendors and a handful of powerful political speakers... oh yeah, there were also over 10,000 attendees! Next years event is sure to be even bigger and better so stay tuned.

High Sierra Music Festival
July 4th weekend (4 days) - Quincy CA

An intimate yet first-rate festival nestled in Northern California's majestic mountain range, the High Sierra Music Festival is a unique four-day music and camping festival that features an eclectic and boldly creative span of music from acoustic singer-songwriters and down-home bluegrass to high-energy funk and skillfully improvised jazz, rock and live electronica. Held in Quincy, CA and celebrating its 17th year, High Sierra launched as a roots-oriented festival with 20 artists on one main stage and has since evolved into to a 10,000 person event with more than 75 performers on five day-time stages and in five late-night venues. When it comes to camp out events with lots of great music you have never heard before, there is none finer than this one.

Got an event that we missed? Let us know what you think are the best festivals in California, we'd love to hear what you think.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

Lightning in a Bottle 2007

A few months back, MetroWize took a trip out of the city and headed down south to Santa Barbara for the 8th annual Lightning in a Bottle festival. The music, vibe and So Cal country side made for an incredible show. Of course our cameras caught it all! For more info on LIB check them out on their Myspace page.

Put this video on your website, myspace or blog! Just click the Get Code Icon to get the html. Need to know more? Check out our article on how to take MetroWize videos with you wherever you want.

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Friday, July 6, 2007

Klaxons @ Great American Music Hall

The Klaxons are easily the biggest new band to hit the States this year and on the 11th, they touch down at Great American Music Hall to show SF what they are all about. Their music has been described as “new rave,” but in reality that has more to do with ideological influences and their brightly colored clothes. So, what does it sound like? Electronic inflected indie rock, complete with hooks and fluttering melodies. Two big hits so far have been “Atlantis to Interzone” and “Gravity’s Rainbow.” So if you’re picturing art-school kids interested in occult imagery and reading “the classics,” you’re not too far off. At the same time, it works for them.

From their rave homage aesthetic to their easily digestible - but slightly odd - pop songs, the guys are hitting a nerve with all the right people. For starters, they won Best New Band from NME this year, and their debut was produced by James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco. They’ve also been remixed by the likes of Modular Record’s pop-outfit Van She and Germany’s electro-powerhouse Digitalism. Well, that and they’re featured on Tony Hawk’s Project 8 videogame.

Catch them as they continue their relentless touring of the States, as they hit the Great American Music Hall on July 11, 2007.

Click here for more info

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Weekend Preview 07/06-07/08

Fourth of July hits us on a Wednesday this year and depending on who you work for and what you do, this is either an awesome thing or it sucks real bad. Let's assume that you have a good job and a boss who wants you to get the most out of life so he/she told you to get the hell out of here and enjoy an extended weekend away from the office.
Obviously there are lots of fireworks to see tonight but moving into the weekend, there are some great shows happening that you really should make sure not to miss. Let's get into it shall we?

Friday night has Steve Lawler coming in to Ruby Skye to show everyone what he is really made of. If you have never seen this man perform, you really should... If you have, you know what i am talking about. Music at it's finest on one of the best sound systems in the country = great night out. As an added bonus, Mr. Lawler will be playing an after party next door at Slide after this show. You must buy tickets ahead of time for this intimate engagement and you can do so here. For the house heads, Remedy is throwing you an independence weekend bone by making their monthly event a freebie @ DNA Lounge! No cover all night long... Can't beat that.

Saturday night, things kick up another notch with DJ superstars Blank & Jones poppin in to Ruby Skye and D:Fuse @ 1015. Both shows will be big over the top electronica nights with packed sweaty dance floors and crowds going crazy. These are some of the biggest names in DJ music so get ready. If you are looking for a bit more of the local vibe, CODA (a brand new Burning Man Camp) is throwing their monthly fundraising party over at Shine. With $10 cover and some of the sickest local DJ's around, this is my pick of the night for the place to be. If you are into funk, one of the countries fastest rising Funk bands is hitting The Independent on Saturday as well. Dumpstaphunk is a New Orleans funk band that will make your booty move guaranteed so check em out if funk is your bag.

Have a great long weekend everyone and get out there and do some partying!

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Armin Van Buuren Ticket Giveaway

Dutch musician and DJ Armin Van Buuren is coming to San Francisco’s Ruby Skye on July 15. Voted in a readers poll from DJ Magazine as the #2 Dj in the world, Buuren is a true master at work. Van Buuren’s style is trance, for sure, but it never really keeps him from spinning the sickest in breaks and progressive house. When it comes to him, it’s both his love of music and the attention paid to the crowd that pulls it together, while the music is nearly secondary to the connection with the people.

Want to go? Of course you do.
Metrowize and Spundae are giving away two free tickets to see him but you need to be on the newsletter list for your chance to win so get signed up now and watch your inbox for the Weekly Wize Guide.

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Hidden Places - Nile Cafe

In keeping with my theme of great hidden places that few people know about, I have to include Nile Café. It’s kind of a little hole in the wall and kind of blends in with the myriad of other cafes and restaurants in the area, but trust me, this one is special.
Nile Cafe
544 Jones St.
415 409-1000

I mentioned this place a while back in my Places to go for Drunk Food article but a mere mention does not do it justice. This place doesn't have amazing food or a huge drink selection, rowdy crowd or banging music. What it does have is hookah, amazing tea (they won’t tell you what kind though, it’s their “secret recipe”) and lotsa pillows to lounge on.

On the nights when I want to go out, but I just don’t want to fight the bar crowd, this is where I come. It’s my little oasis. The owner is friendly, and remembers you if you come more than once. And you’ve gotta love the old men sitting around outside smokin’ it up (and drinking it up – even though this place doesn’t have a liquor license).

This is how they describe the place on their site:
"Nile Cafe is San Francisco’s latest, greatest little gem - leading the re-vitalization of the TrendyLoin! Nile is in the heart of The City, and blocks away from some of SF’s hottest night spots. It’s the perfect stop to pre-party with some high energy Espresso or Turkish Coffee, wind down the night with our smoothly blended hookah flavors, or escape the crowds and relax with friends in a hip, comfy place with delicious food, drink, and smoke!"

The Jasmine and Vanilla hookahs are my favorite, and I always get the tea. Now let me clarify, if you’ve never had a hookah, it’s not what you might think. You don’t get high, and it doesn’t taste like a cigarette – although it is technically tobacco. It’s lighter and sweeter and you don’t have to truly inhale to get the best taste, but you can if you want.

**some other hidden hookah joints worth checking out**
Kan Zaman Café
1793 Haight St.
415 751-9656

Marrakech Moroccan Restaurant
(this one has belly dancing!)
419 O’Farrell
415 776-6717

Hidden Places is brought to you by MetroWize city expert - Alexis J.
Other articles by Alexis
Hidden Places - Hidden Vine Winery
10 places to get your late night food fix

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Monday, July 2, 2007

Stanton Warriors Reviewed

I saw Stanton Warriors at 1015 Friday night. Both Stanton’s graced 1015 with their presence, which is quite rare to see both artists. Knowing very well the flavor of the tunes I was about to hear, I was thoroughly excited and was anticipating this event.

I walked in to 1015 early morning and was surprised by a not so packed club? Didn’t matter I was heading into the main room, where to my delight I heard a familiar sound… yep the two Stanton’s were already seasoning the decks.

They rocked the main room that was not empty but definitely not full, kind of cozy. One thing to note and I’ll leave it at that, (not intended to open the "the can of worms" discussion) the flyer stated "…rare live performance..". They rocked the set with decks and a Mac, not quite the "live set" I was expecting… None the less, they played a wonderful set laced with "phat" bass line breaks and some mind altering D&B bouncing it right back into sweet breaks. Oh I must admit breaks to D&B and back to breaks just gives me the jitters… plus the four screen visuals, was a nice addition to this all senses trip that was fully underway.

Very cool crowd, down to earth and everyone in that room seemed to know exactly what kind of rare treat this is. A sort of bond, if you will, with my fellow partiers and dancers. This seemed to add a nice vibe to the not so packed room. Wondering around the club, I noticed upstairs was some electro house, also not too full, but enough people to call it a party. The front room actually stopped the music 2:30 AM, but hey, who cares, the Stanton’s were still crafting the skills on the decks, no reason for hard feelings!

I loved hearing the retake "Still Here" (Feat. Eska), as it started just as it would on the 12’ and then halted abruptly to a nicely modified ground shaking edit that I have never heard!
I hope the Stanton’s come back, because I will certainly go, packed or not!!
Stanton Warriors review from Ofer R ... the man about town.

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