Last week, The New Mastersounds brought their patented funk out to The Independent for two great nights of music. The band’s ever funky presence is always felt, between old classics and newer cuts from their 2015 release, Made For Pleasure. One highlight from the first night of the run was the band’s cover of Kool & The Gang‘s “Give It Up,” complete with a horn section featuring Daniel Casares on saxophone and Mike Olmos on trumpet.Listen to the New Mastersounds funkify San Francisco with this great jam below:[Video courtesy of Martin Lefkowitz, photo by Courtney Harrington]
The future space funk is in good hands if Totem, the new album by The Motet, is any indication. The band has made some personnel changes of late, and fans have been waiting eagerly to hear what The Motet had in store for them. Noted proponents of funk with world and dance elements liberally mixed together, The Motet has built a loyal following that was hopeful their heroes would keep it real and keep it real funky. With guitarist Eric Krasno of Lettuce and Soulive producing and writing a pair of tunes for the disc, certain expectations were held, and happily exceeded. The most prominent change came at vocalist, going from Jans Ingber to Lyle Divinsky, a move that has the band sounding even more like a forgotten fountain of the funk hey-day of the late seventies than ever.Stream the album via Spotify below, and follow along with our written review of the new release!Founder Dave Watts fittingly kicks off this new era of The Motet with a twisty percussion intro to “The Truth” that sets the stage to let Divinsky show what he brings to the proceedings. Divinsky’s weapon of choice is a voice that sounds so authentic and perfect for the mood, you almost have to wonder if he was made in a laboratory. The space boogie flows on with the bouncy “Fool No More,” with a snappy bass line from Garrett Sayers that sounds an inexorable call to the dance floor for party people. Organist Joey Porter gets a chance to shine on “Know It Too Well,” as the music opens up and he has a chance to lend squeals and peals to lyric heavy sections before drenching the proceedings with lush chords. The percolating pulse of “Rippin’ Herb” shows how tight The Motet can be, as they play an intricate musical game of “follow the leader” through a winding funk maze, passing off the lead almost imperceptibly. Divinsky shows great comfort for such a short stint in the organization, as his leads on “Damn!” show. Showy use of echo laden vocals and doubling techniques that thicken his already impressive tone to a smooth pervasive presence that make the instrumental breaks a trip to an alternate dimension, sonically, within each original tune’s framework. Nothing has changed about The Motet’s love of instrumentals, and the wordless “Solar Plexus” keeps the overall cosmic groove feeling of Totem going with a touch of reggae thrown in for good measure in the forms of the majestic horn fills. Guitarist Ryan Jalbert continues to show impressive growth in his playing, with his ability to shift from slinky rhythm to full on rock star wail in an instant. The horn section of Gabe Mervine and Drew Sayers use their brass to take every song higher, adding layers of depth and reinforcing the beats and melodies with equal dexterity. Whether hanging back in a thick groove on tunes like “Danger” or getting jazz-y and expressive on songs like “Cloak And Dagger,” The Motet sounds like a finely tuned machine, ready to run perfectly in whatever gear is needed to get where they want to go.For the closing song, the instrumental “Contraband,” the choice is made to slowly take the foot off the accelerator, and to give listeners a cool down as they are slowly dispelled from the Utopian funk spell. Any worries about the future of The Motet should be instantly dispelled from the first notes of Totem. With the release of this united work and tour dates on the horizon to hone the new lineup into a true unit, it certainly looks like the best is yet to come from The Motet. But for now, Totem is a showcase for a funk band that is at the top of their game.
Up-and-coming L.A. funk trio Organ Freeman continues to make moves, as the band keeps things funky and will soon appear at Brooklyn Comes Alive. Today, the band has been announced as support for TAUK, playing a hometown show at The Roxy in Hollywood, CA. These two instrumental fusion groups are guaranteed to throw it down when they get together on November 4th.With a new album out in just a couple weeks, TAUK’s uniquely instrumental brand of progressive funk fusion had earned them a great reputation. Their live shows are downright infectious, and the energy of new music is sure to translate into great playing! When you combine that energy with the all-out funk jamming of Organ Freeman, it’s a sure fire recipe for success.You can’t help but grin when you hear that a band is named Organ Freeman. That grin turns into an all-out smile when you listen to their music, a soulful-yet-peppy blend of instrumental jazz fusion that takes no prisoners. It’s some serious toe-tapping jives, fueled by the trio hard at work: guitarist Erik Carlson, drummer Rob Humphreys and organist Trevor Steer.Check out all of the information about the show in the artwork below, and get tickets here.
Load remaining images Last weekend marked the return of Thrival Innovation + Music Festival, bringing a series of interactive programming events and musical performances to the Pittsburgh area. The first three days of the festival, from September 20-22, featured keynote speeches, discussions, workshops, classes and more, as part of the festival’s focus on innovation. Over the weekend, the focus shifted to the music, as a series of performances were hosted throughout the city.Among the many artists playing Thrival were The Chainsmokers, CHVRCHES, Thievery Corporation, Metric, Ty Dolla $ign, Rubblebucket, and more. All of these musicians came to play, impressing fans with great performances throughout a great weekend!Photographer Ben Petchel was on the scene to capture the music. Check out the full gallery of images below.
It’s been a week since I returned from the second weekend of Desert Trip, and I’m still not sure if what I witnessed was the real deal or just another sand-swept mirage. Did Goldenvoice really gather six of the most legendary musical acts on Earth—Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, The Who and Roger Waters, to be exact—in one place on one stage for consecutive weekends? Or were those all imposters prancing around like their namesakes enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?The truth, always, was somewhere in between.Yes, the greats on the bill all showed up—and, in most cases, showed out. But like the warm, dusty winds that swept through the Empire Polo Field, time has had a way of wearing on the acts, some more than others. While critiquing all-time greats who are clearly past their respective primes might seem silly in some respects, it’s still relevant insofar as the acts themselves are.And as far as performing is concerned, they are.The Who finished up their protracted 50th anniversary tour in the desert. The Stones figure to hit the road again soon in support of their new album, Blue and Lonesome. Neil Young’s schedule is clear until April 2017 after a summer swing with Promise of the Real. Roger Waters recently announced a new tour of his own, entitled Us and Them, that will run through 2017. Dylan has gigs scheduled until late November.It’s only fair, then, that fans who’ve either bought tickets or are considering doing so know what to expect, for better or worse.—In no Desert Trip case does that hold true than Bob Dylan’s.I knew what I was getting into with Dylan live. I’d seen him at the Forum in Los Angeles back in 2007, and came away far more impressed by the opener, a little band from Alabama called the Kings of Leon.Hearing Dylan in the flesh for the first time was a frustrating experience. I wanted to connect with all the great songs I’d been cramming into my head for months beforehand (the dude’s discography is as dense as they come—37 studio albums deep, not to mention all the live albums, compilations and collaborations). But I had enough trouble figuring which songs he was playing, let alone actually feeling them. Between Dylan’s gravelly tones—garbled from in front of a keyboard, facing away from the crowd the whole time—and the band’s tweaked melodies and rhythms, deciphering the different tunes became a task fit for Dick Tracy’s detective work.So when I saw Dylan at Desert Trip, I wasn’t surprised.He started out recognizable enough. The stoned-out silliness of “Rainy Day Woman” was unmistakable. As were the roadhouse vibes of “Highway 61 Revisited”. For a time, I held out hope that what little rapid cognition I had left after a late night and a long day would be enough to enjoy Dylan.But then…it started. Ten seconds to pick out “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” Fifteen for “Simple Twist of Fate.” Thirty for “Love Sick.” We didn’t realize he was playing Tangled Up in Blue until Dylan grumbled out the words “Tangled up in Blue.”At one point, my friend and I played a little game. We called it, “Who can guess which Dylan song this is first.” We gave up a minute into the first song we tried. It might’ve been “Make You Feel My Love.” I wish I knew.There were flits of fun, when a familiar phrase hit my ear. Cinderella sweeping up on Desolation Row. Inquiries with Mr. Jones in “Ballad of a Thin Man.” When he opened the encore with “Like a Rolling Stone,” I couldn’t help but smile…after sitting and nodding for a bit to confirm my initial suspicions. I even stood for that one, though more out of respect for The Master’s timeless work than for his attempt to bring it back to life.But in between all those came unintelligible tales. At times, I waved the white flag and started writing this instead.“If it weren’t Bob Dylan up there,” my friend said, “I wouldn’t be here right now.”For once, I couldn’t help but agree with his curmudgeonliness, albeit out of disappointment in Bob’s.—If Dylan was a dud as the opener, the Stones held up their end of the bargain as a more-than-worthy main act.They started out with a bang, setting off fireworks to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” They got the crowd crowing “Hey, you, get off of my cloud”, then started everyone up again toward the end of the initial set. The encore closed with a full-on pyrotechnic display after the band broke out a complete choir for “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and ultimately acknowledged their own “Satisfaction”, or former lack thereof.Where Dylan stood on an island, his back to the audience, Jagger engaged the massive field face-first. Tongue planted firmly in cheek, he cracked wise about spectators coming out to see acts “before they croak,” joked about sharing the stage with a Nobel laureate for the first time and compared braving the elements of the Inland Empire to singing into a hair dryer.Keith Richards, potential survivor in a zombie apocalypse, took center stage for a spell to sing “You Got the Silver” and “A Little T&A,” because Keith Richards.Each song hit the ear like a sonic time capsule, recapturing sensations and emotions long strung to Ronnie Wood’s strums and Charlie Watts’ drums. And when the Stones busted out the bluesy “Just Your Fool” from their new album, Jagger clued the audience in from the get-go.By the end of the night, it didn’t quite matter that Dylan muttered his way through his set.After 54 years together, the Stones still have enough brown sugar left in their bag to make all of their songs sound and taste so good, if not a whole lot better.So while the Stones, in their encore, insisted that you can’t always get what you want—least of all satisfaction—their performance suggested otherwise.—So did Saturday’s double header of Neil Young and Paul McCartney.Each songsmith has long since split from the other musical maestros with whom he did his most famous work. Young hasn’t played with David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash at all since 2013, and hasn’t toured with them since 2007. McCartney last performed with the Beatles on a London rooftop in January 1969.Both have long since established themselves as successful, if not sensational, solo artists, as capable of ripping through their own catalogues as reanimating tracks from group acts that will now and forever belong to the past.Young began his sprawling two-hour set alone, but had little trouble commanding the collective attention of the massive crowd before him. He opened with a tender rendition of Buffalo Springfield’s “Campaigner,” one of Young’s many lyrical rants against American presidents, before gliding into a gilded back-to-back of “After the Gold Rush” and “Heart of Gold.”A completely unaccompanied set from Young would’ve sufficed; he spent one of his recent tours playing songs and hopping from instrument to instrument all by his lonesome, to captivating effect.But Young, at his core, is a rocker who’s at his best when he has others to rock out with. His latest backing band, the Promise of the Real, provided him with all the support he needed to shred his way through the rest of his songlist. Together, they electrified the humanity-flooded field with Young staples like “Alabama,” “Cowgirl in the Sand,” and, of course, “Rockin’ In the Free World” to close.All the while, Young provided further proof that septuagenarians can, in fact, rock as hard as anyone. More impressive, though, is that Young’s touch at switching speeds remains so sharp.His humble but forceful wail soaked up the most spotlight when serenading in sync with the sentimentality of “Helpless” and accompanying his pump organ work on “Mother Earth.”Just like that, he could summon the tortured defiance to lash his way through “Powderfinger.”And when that anger found its way outward, it once again landed on Young’s political nerve, in classic fashion. His latest crusade: crushing the California Seed Law. He flipped his middle finger in the form of whole seed bags he passed out to the closest in the crowd.For a man with such a drawl to all his does, Young always seems to surprise with his boundless energy. Nowadays, his age (he’ll be 71 on Nov. 12) acts as a cover for his true capabilities.In truth, Young’s musical game—his deliberate pacing, heavy tones and populist point of view—has aged well. In today’s world, there will always be angst and anxiety—and, as a result, angry anthems rife with rebelliousness.—Among his peers (CSN aside), Young will always be a jam partner du jour. So it was only fitting when he came out during Paul McCartney’s set, which followed his on Saturday, to help the former Beatles frontman describe “A Day in the Life.” Young stuck around for “Give Peace a Chance” and lent his visceral heft to “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” before taking his leave.McCartney’s sets are always packed with Easter eggs like that. The man can’t help it; he’s the most successful singer/songwriter on the planet, maybe ever. His is as close to a Beatles concert as you’ll likely ever get…and that’s just the part of the show that covers the first act of a sprawling sonic career.Because he’s the forever King of the Mountain, he gets top billing and the attendant stage time. During his Desert Trip set, he fit in 38 songs, with all the usual banter in between. He hit all his usual notes: the civil-rights story behind “Blackbird,” the salute to John Lennon before “Here Today” and the ukulele for George Harrison on “Something,” the piano for Linda McCartney on “Maybe I’m Amazed.” The Wings standards. The Abbey Road home stretch of “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End.” The fireworks during “Live and Let Die.”But McCartney had plenty of leeway to play around. There were the newest additions to his live catalogue, “Queenie Eye” and “FourFiveSeconds,” the latter featuring a guest appearance from Rihanna and a long-desired substitution of McCartney’s voice for Kanye West’s part. And there were the prequel callbacks, to one of the Beatles’ biggest influences (Little Richard) on “Rip It Up” and their origins, as the Quarrymen, on “In Spite of All the Danger”—the first song the band ever recorded.McCartney may take the lower melodic roads more often than ever at this point, but he lays the charm as thick as ever. He carries the mantle for his generation ably and joyfully, the two intertwined. The man remains as timeless as the tunes he’s spun to span generations.—Sunday came with a dose of skepticism in some corners. Both acts, the Who and Roger Waters, had shown significant slippage in recent years.The Who, though, seemed re-energized, as they had been over their last two sojourns. The success of the Quadrophenia Tour has clearly breathed new life into their sets. Now, they’re comfortable and confident playing songs from a brilliant album that Pete Townshend described during the 50th Anniversary Tour as his favorite—a point on which he and I are in lockstep.That same revivalist fervor made its way to the Coachella Valley, despite complaints from Roger Daltrey about the effect of the elements on his repaired vocal cords.They once again pulled from that rock opera with a string, from “5:15” and “I’m One” to the instrumental “The Rock” and “Love Reign O’er Me.” That began a set-ending run of songs set to long stories—a chunk of Tommy and the remnants of “Lifehouse” on Who’s Next.But before the Who became Townshend’s narrative playground, it was as strong a force on the edgier end of the British Invasion as any band from across the pond. With help from a top-notch cast that now features Simon Townshend, Pino Palladino and Zak Starkey, Roger and Pete raged furiously through “I Can’t Explain,” “The Kids Are Alright” and “My Generation” before dipping deeper into their post-1960s catalogue.Where once I thought The Who might soon call it quits, I’m now not so sure. They could hang up their touring gear for good, but there’s clearly something left in the tank that’s worth sharing if the remaining original members are willing and able to share it.—The same goes for Roger Waters, though his challenge is different. Half of the Who’s original arrangement has already passed, leaving Townsend and Daltrey as the sole proprietors of the catalogue.Waters, on the other hand, is up against his former counterpart from Pink Floyd, David Gilmour. This past year, Gilmour went on tour, ripping his way through Floyd classics with his psychadelic guitar and sincere vocals and reminding long-time fans of his importance to the band’s most memorable musical moments.Waters, for all his stellar live production, cannot replicate that, be it on his own or with another singer. To that end, he fell somewhat short on the pulls from The Dark Side of the Moon, including “Breathe,” “Time” and “Us and Them.”But by and large, Waters smartly played to his strengths. He harkened back to the Syd Barrett days with “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” brought on a brilliant pair of blonde-haired balladeers to soar through the harmonies on “Great Gig in the Sky” and sing-talked to “Have a Cigar.”The totality of the technology for Waters’ show was top notch, per usual. He employed rows of speaker towers to lend dimensionality to his sound and captivated the crowd with trippy visuals. His song choice was impeccable as well. He hopped whole-cloth from album to album, pulling chunks from Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall.Still, with Waters, there’s the sad seduction of knowing that there is and might always be a cap on how close the performance could come to its most optimal level if only relations were better between Waters and Gilmour. It’s the same wishful thinking, the same yearning that makes the thought of a Led Zeppelin reunion so enticing, even if the parties in question have shown no sign of an impending detente.Rumor has it that the powers behind Desert Trip approached Robert Plant about rejoining Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones with a sizeable check at the ready, only to be turned down like so many before. Perhaps the success of this inaugural run will lend the event enough gravitas to play Lazarus with a legendary rock group or two.For now, Desert Trip will go down as a festival that—for all the flaws inherent in an event by, for and of a fading generation—was phenomenal as is and has potential yet to be tapped.
The California Honeydrops put their soulful rock n’ roll on display at the Bowery Ballroom last night, November 13th, playing to a packed house at the NYC venue. The band rolled out a ton of original music, and slipped in a few great covers as well. Fortunately, Marc Millman Photography was on the scene to capture the magic.Check out videos from last night’s performance, below.“Let’s Go Get Stoned”“Bump & Grind”“I’ve Never Found A Girl”
Leon Bridges shows his stars and stripes in this performance for a new series on the National Anthem from ESPN and The Undefeated. The Texas soul sensation reinvents “The Star-Spangled Banner” by turning the song into 6/8th time and delivering an emotionally moving rendition.“I felt that the original version is a little bit too straightforward musically,” Bridges told ESPN in an interview. “I felt it was kind of dope to give a little 6/8, groovy feel to it. Something that felt comfortable for me to sing. I felt that the National Anthem needed a little bit of soul.”Check out Leon Bridge’s beautiful recreation below:
“All of a sudden there’s a song – there in your hotel room playing your guitar – and you write it, and two or three years later it will come true. It keeps you on your toes.”These words, spoken by Townes Van Zandt, support a popular notion of the songwriter in American popular culture: A rambling man, on the road with a band, playing venues both squalid and splendid, creating songs from thin air with little more than a beat up guitar, bottle of booze and hotel notepad. And there’s no doubt that countless great tunes have been written in such a manner. But there’s another question worth asking: In 2017, are most songs written that way?To find out, we spoke with six songwriters who will be at the ninth annual Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival over Memorial Day weekend (May 25-28) in Martinsville, Va. These six artists: Paul Hoffman (Greensky Bluegrass), Anders Osborne, Andrew Marlin (Mandolin Orange), Lyle Divinksy (The Motet), Marcus King, and Wood Robinson (Mipso) bring different backgrounds, hometowns, experience levels and genres to the craft of songwriting. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they write songs in different manners.Read on to learn about the unique process that Colorado-based band The Motet uses to create the songs you know and love. You can also catch Lyle with the Motet when they hit Fool’s Paradise this weekend!Editor’s Note: This is the first story in a six-part “Road to Rooster Walk” series about the craft and process of songwriting. When lead vocalist and hype-man-extraordinaire Lyle Divinsky got approached about joining The Motet a year and a half ago, his audition had little to do with stage presence or singing ability. Those were skills the band had already verified. Instead, Divinky’s tryout was largely about putting lyrics to a pair of instrumental songs the band had already demoed . . . before he’d met a single member of the group.“It was kind of a fun challenge to know that this was my audition for the band, to write for them, and to know that and to just get excited about how much fun their music was,” Divinsky said. “The Truth’ was the first song that I wrote and that one, I wrote most of it in three hours of sitting down. And then took, I think, a day or two to just kind of sit with it, make sure it was exactly what I wanted and just kind of fine tune a couple things. And then, ‘Fool No More’ was the second song that I wrote, and that one was pretty quick, as well. That one might have even been just a day.”When possible, Divinsky prefers to write from his in-home studio, where he’ll set up shop at his computer (which features basic recording software), a notepad, pen, and his phone. He’ll set the phone’s timer for three hours and then toss it across the room, “because I feel like three hours is about the amount of time that I can work productively without needing a full-on break.”When things are flowing freely, it can be a speedy process.“My favorite times are the ones where I sit down with a song, and like an hour-and-a-half later, the whole song’s written down, and I’m already recording the background harmonies to it,” he said.Like Anders Osborne, Divinsky is adamant in his goal to write something every day, even if that something isn’t a fully realized song or concept. He uses the voice recording app on his smartphone, or a small notepad that he carries in his pocket, to capture lyrical snippets or potential song ideas. These get transferred into a larger notebook or computer file, though when he heads into the studio with instrumental tracks waiting, he tries his best not to fall back on the lyrics he’s already started.“I like to go into it with a completely blank slate, because I think that gives me the chance to really interact with the song and see what can come of it,” Divinsky said. “But then if I’m having a hard time catching something, I’ll start going through hook lines, start going through lyrics that I’ve written, little poems and whatnot. You can get turned on by even just a word from one of those, and then that can send you off in the right direction.”Before joining The Motet, he wrote both lyrics and the music to go with them. But now, with a longstanding band of amazing musicians by his side, the job description has changed. And he loves it.“The melodies aren’t necessarily complete (when the song arrives to me). They’ll give me instrumentals and whatnot – drum, guitar, keys – the skeleton demo version of what they’re coming up with. And then I’ll put the song over it,” he said. “They give the foundation, and I kind of paint in the branches and the leaves and everything like that.”Divinksy is equally comfortable writing on the computer or with pen and paper. When he gets stuck on a song, he’s found that switching from computer to paper, or vice versa, can get him back on track. Thanks to his in-home studio, when he sends a potential song back to the band, it’s far more than an email with typed out verses and choruses.“Whenever I send my ideas back to the guys, it’s usually a fully realized (audio track), just so they can kind of hear it in the context that I intend it to be,” he said. “You know, sometimes it works super well, super quick.”Songwriters who influence Lyle: Bill Withers (“I think that he’s able to capture grandiose emotions in very simple words. So he’s a hero of mine for that.”) Lowell George, John Prine, Stevie Wonder.Song: “The Truth”Next Week on the Road to Rooster Walk: Greensky Bluegrass
Thankfully, Wolfhard’s Stranger Things co-star Natalia Dyer (aka Nancy Wheeler) was side-stage to watch the action unfold, and posted some photos of the feel-good sit-in. Check them out below, via Dyer’s Instagram: Cooking up something good, full cover. By @Msldemarco pic.twitter.com/lo1HcegHux— Finn Wolfhard (@FinnSkata) December 10, 2016DeMarco commented on being covered by the young actor/budding musician in an interview with Pitchfork earlier this year, noting “You know, I liked it and thought that it was great. I have texted with him a little bit, and he’s a really nice dude. It’s pretty wild. I like the show, too. He’s so young!”Over the course of those texts, DeMarco must have invited Wolfhard to join him at a show, because during his performance at Atlanta’s The Tabernacle on Saturday, the This Old Dog rocker invited the young actor onstage to “jam,” even putting him on his shoulders while he played. Is there anything this kid can’t do?[h/t – Pitchfork] Child actor Finn Wolfhard has had a big year. The 14-year-old Canadian turned heads in the role of Mike Wheeler, the fearless leader of the rag-tag A/V club gang in hit Netflix sic-fi/thriller series Stranger Things. He will also star in the upcoming remake of Stephen King‘s It, due out this fall. But while Finn is already a successful actor at a very young age, he’s only just scratched the surface of his diverse ambitions in the entertainment industry: he’s also a guitarist, as the world learned last summer when he began to post self-made videos of him playing popular songs on guitar to his Twitter feed, including covers of Nirvana‘s “Lithium,” and Mac DeMarco‘s “Salad Days.”Early morning Lithium! pic.twitter.com/qmIRnaO3y5— Finn Wolfhard (@FinnSkata) August 14, 2016
On October 7th, CalJam took over the Glen Helen Regional Park & Festival Grounds in San Bernardino, California, serving as a kickass record release party to celebrate the Foo Fighters’ Concrete and Gold. In founding the event, Dave Grohl drew his inspiration from the original California Jam, a 1974 rock festival at the Ontario Motor Speedway that featured Deep Purple; Black Sabbath; the Eagles; Earth, Wind and Fire; and Emerson, Lake and Palmer among others. Surprisingly, this weekend’s CalJam felt much closer in spirit to its predecessor than even the 16-mile and decades-long divide would suggest. CalJam 2017’s lineup was dominated by hard-driving, ear-splitting rock and roll—the likes of which are rarely seen topping major festival bills, let alone clumped together for a single Saturday.Watch Dave Grohl’s 8-Year-Old Daughter Rock The Drums In Iceland On Friday With The Foo FightersRoyal Blood brought more than enough brash head-bangers to set off a massive afternoon mosh in the pit at Glen Helen Pavilion, dubbed the CalJam 17 stage for the occasion. The UK-based duo of vocalist/bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher placed itself in the close company of acts like the White Stripes and the Black Keys with standards such as “Figure it Out” and “Little Monster.” By the same token, the Brighton residents distinguished themselves with their bluesier forebears—and jumped whole-hog into heavy metal—with the dynamic distortions of “Lights Out” and “Come On Over.”They weren’t the only purveyors of a bootstrapped music spirit. The Kills aren’t strictly a duo anymore, at least not after adding a collection of percussionists to their act. But in Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince, the band still has a two-part core that can compete with groups of all shapes and sizes at its end of the sonic spectrum. Mosshart reminded the crowd of as much with her menacing farewell during “Black Balloon,” as did Hince with both his guitar and his drum machine on “Hard Habit to Break” from Ash & Ice, the group’s latest release. Unfortunately, only the truly dedicated festival travelers managed to catch their set on the smaller Sun Stage in between acts at the main venue.In that way, CalJam fell victim to the same #FirstWorldProblem that’s become the bane of every festival from Coachella to Bonnaroo: the dreaded overlap. The difference here, aside from the scrunched schedule, is that the acts stepping on each other’s toes weren’t from wildly different genres who happened to land at the same eclectic festival. Instead, the conflicts at CalJam often pitted likeminded rockers against one another.Foo Fighters Respond To Westboro Baptist Church Protest In Most Epic Way PossibleCage the Elephant brought American blues-rock and punk back to the fore in the evening, but only after nailing their rendition of “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” the lone Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover of the day. Lead singer Matt Shultz then commenced his typical command of the stage, thrusting and wailing his way through “In One Ear,” “No Rest For the Wicked,” “Mess Around,” “Trouble,” and “Shake Me Down” while stripping from a full suit and tie down his skivvies (mic belt included).The garage rockers from Bowling Green eventually gave way to the desert daze and dazzling lights of Queens of the Stone Age. The sunburnt metal ensemble relied heavily on its 2013 release …Like Clockwork, opening with “If I Had a Tail” and belting out bangers like “My God is the Sun” and “Smooth Sailing.” Considering the proximity to QOTSA’s home base in Palm Desert, it was only fitting to also hear sand-aged standards like “Millionaire,” “No One Knows,” “I Wanna Make It With You,” “Little Sister,” “Go With the Flow,” and “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” sprinkled in—if not cemented—between groovier new tunes like “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” “The Evil Has Landed” and “Domesticated Animals” from this year’s LP, Villains.As much as Queens made of its 75-minute set, there was no competing with the Foo Fighters’ epic two-plus-hour journey to close out the festival. Grohl slowly and steadily brought his whole band into the mix with an opener of “Times Like These,” followed by a face-melting run of “All My Life,” “Learn to Fly” and “The Pretender.” The new album, for which this whole shindig was arranged, got plenty of shine. Grohl proudly introduced “The Sky Is a Neighborhood,” one of the singles off Concrete and Gold, before inviting Mosshart and saxophonist extraordinaire Dave Koz on stage for “La Dee Da.” The group allowed the dusty crowd to catch its breath with more mellow additions to the Foo catalog, like “Sunday Rain” and “Dirty Water,” the latter of which featured The Bird and the Bee’s Inara George among the supporting vocalists.With all that stage time on their hands, the Foo Fighters were bound to bust out some surprises. They rickrolled the entire Inland Empire with Rick Astley himself, brought on Joe Perry to play Aerosmith’s “Draw the Line,” and invited Liam Gallagher back onstage for a rendition of “Come Together.” It wouldn’t have been a proper Foo show, though, without ample callbacks to the band’s ever-expanding discography—”My Hero” here, “Monkey Wrench” there, “White Limo” in between and, of course, “Everlong” to close out the festival. [Video: Albert Lam]The lineup itself would’ve been enough to satiate rock-and-roll fans for three days at a weekend-long festival. Instead, CalJam packed all that into a single day, along with carnival rides, water slides, a Foo Fighters museum, a recording studio set up by Gibson, and a slew of scrumptious options from a variety of food and beverage vendors. And if you camped at the adjacent park, you probably indulged in Friday night vibes from the Police Experience, the Atomic Punks, and Trouble Funk if you weren’t busy reminiscing about the Ramones to “Rock N’ Roll High School” at the outdoor movie theatre.Indeed, the new CalJam had something for everyone. The festival offered plenty for anyone who grew up on the alternative rock of the 1990s and 2000s, but more importantly, served as a tribute to the electric pioneers who paved the way more than 40 years ago.