Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Howlin' Rain Premieres Rollicking New 'Missouri' Video

by Janelle Bitker
Wed, May 30, 2018 at 12:00 PM

  • Photo courtesy of Kristy Walker
Oakland's Howlin' Rain teamed up with the Express to premiere its new music video for "Missouri." The song comes from the rock band's soulful, anthemic new album Alligator Bride, which saw the group return to its DIY roots via bandleader Ethan Miller's own Silver Current Records. Miller is, of course, the Bay Area favorite who also fronts Heron Oblivion and Feral Ohms and formerly helmed Comets on Fire.

Miller shared a little bit about the new release: "The mission with the ‘Missouri’ video was to capture the live energy of the band, which I think we did quite nicely here. The energy is always high and together there's always a feeling of the band as a single entity being on the brink of eruption. When we get on stage that energy just goes through the roof. It’s such a joy to feel those guys whipping up around me like cyclones!” 

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Your 2018 Guide to Clusterfest

by Janelle Bitker
Wed, May 30, 2018 at 10:44 AM

  • Photo courtesy of Josh Withers

The biggest comedy festival in the Bay Area is also one of the newest. Clusterfest returns Friday, June 1, through Sunday, June 3, for its second year of nonstop stand-up as well as live music and interactive attractions.

Presented by Comedy Central, Superfly, and Another Planet Entertainment, Clusterfest inverts the Outside Lands formula with comics as the headliners and bands in supporting roles. The headliners are huge names: Amy Schumer, Berkeley’s The Lonely Island, John Mulaney, Trevor Noah, and Jon Stewart, who will close out the festival on Sunday with his first stand-up performance on the West Coast in 15 years. (Don’t worry, the former Daily Show host does indeed have an act. Read this interview in the San Francisco Chronicle.)

With five stages sprinkled throughout San Francisco Civic Center and the Bill Graham Auditorium, Clusterfest has a habit of overwhelming. Here’s what we recommend checking out this weekend beyond the headliners:


Tiffany Haddish: Endearing and hilarious, the star of 2017’s Girl Trip is an easy choice in one of the earlier time slots.

Saturday, 5:45-6:30 p.m., Colossal Stage

David Cross: Best known for his role as Tobias on Arrested Development, Cross is far more dry and sarcastic in his stand-up persona. He also has a small but vital role in the upcoming Boots Riley film, Sorry to Bother You.

Sunday, 7:45-8:45 p.m., Bill Graham Stage

Maria Bamford: Her semi-autobiographical Netflix show Lady Dynamite was a critical hit and an important, destigmatizing portrayal of mental illness.

Friday, 5:30-6:30 p.m., 415 Comedy Club; 7:15-8:30 p.m. Bill Graham Stage

Awkwafina: The Asian American comedian and rapper is poised to blow up with two movies coming out this summer, Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians, as well as a Comedy Central pilot.

Saturday, 3:15-4 p.m., Colossal Stage; 7:15-8:15 p.m. Room 415 Comedy Club

Doughboys: Mike Mitchell and Nick Wiger took reviewing chain restaurants to a new level with their hilarious podcast.

Sunday, 7:30-8:30 p.m., Larkin Comedy Club


Wu-Tang Clan: Get ready to sing along to "C.R.E.A.M."

Sunday, 6:45-7:45 p.m., Colossal Stage

Third Eye Blind: This is, after all, a comedy festival.
Friday, 6:25-7:10 p.m., Colossal Stage


Kronnerburger: The Piedmont Avenue restaurant is no more, so this might be one of your last chances to get the official Kronnerburger. (The stand will also serve vegan Impossible burgers.)

Aburaya: The Oakland favorite will serve fried chicken rice bowls, vegan drumstix, and fried cauliflower.

Whistlin’ Willys pizza: Little Star Pizza will serve deep dish and thin crust slices in honor of the South Park pizzeria.

Paddy’s Pub food: Ever wondered what rum ham, bagged spaghetti, and tachos would actually taste like? It’s time to find out.

Dosa By Dosa: Head here for lighter, healthier meals, including their sprouted mung bean salad and pani poori, a chaat dish you can’t even get at the actual Oakland restaurant.


Paddy’s Pub: The shitty bar from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is back, featuring live entertainment every day in addition to themed food. You can even play Flipadelphia.

The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library: The Daily Show presents “the finest works from Trump’s Twitter collection.”

South Park County Fair: Join the gang for skee ball, archery, and other carnival games.

Double Dare: The Nickelodeon game show will be recreated with interactive challenges, a one-hour live show on Sunday, and slime.

Arrested Development: You’ve probably already binge-watched the new season on Netflix, and now you can hit up the banana stand and take a selfie on the stair car.

Tickets ($289.50 for three days and $115 for single days) are still on sale here.

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Monday, May 28, 2018

Review: The White Elitism of BottleRock Napa Valley

Bruno Mars called the festival 'the fancy Coachella.'

by Azucena Rasilla
Mon, May 28, 2018 at 9:31 AM

Sunday saw more than 30,000 attendees. - PHOTO COURTESY BOTTLEROCK NAPA VALLEY
  • Photo courtesy BottleRock Napa Valley
  • Sunday saw more than 30,000 attendees.

More than 30,000 people showed up to day three of BottleRock Napa Valley — a vast majority to see Bruno Mars. Many chose to skip all of the day's other performances to try to get a coveted spot close to the front of the main stage to see Bruno Mars close the festival.

It was a commitment to sit through so many other performances, including Halsey. Throughout her mediocre performance, the New York native — and G-Eazy’s girlfriend — kept complaining between songs, berating fans who had been waiting by the stage for hours for their lack of enthusiasm. She is overrated at best.

Bruno Mars called the festival “the fancy Coachella.” This term is accurate, as BottleRock primarily functions as a music festival for the elite.

Sure, BottleRock offers a payment plan just like Coachella and Outside Lands, but out of the three festivals, only Outside Lands offers a payment plan for the VIP section. With BottleRock, there are too many tiers going from general admission, which cost $409 for all three days, to their Platinum Experience, which will set you back $3,500.

The tiers in pricing were surely reflected in the crowds. While there has been an increase in younger people attending, which was the case this year with lots of people in their teens and early 20s, as well as families with kids in strollers, the mix of people stops there. It remains predominantly white. If you wanted to find people of color, more were there as staff as opposed to as attendees.

  • Photo courtesy BottleRock Napa Valley
  • A sea of white people.

The "BottleRock is too white" theme doesn’t stop at the attendees or the lineup — none of the 16 Latino-owned wineries from Napa were present at the festival either.

Choosing Bruno Mars, one of few people of color on the lineup, as the closer of the festival was an excellent idea. He is, after all, one of the best singers and entertainers around currently. The hope is that the folks behind BottleRock put more effort into bringing not only a more diverse group of artists in the future — if Michael Franti can play the festival over five times, so can Latinx bands who have previously played — but also find a way to make the crowd more diverse as well as have the food and drinks selection reflect the demographics of Napa Valley.

BottleRock Napa Valley 2019 will take place May 24-26.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Review: Police Activity Disrupts Day Two of BottleRock Napa Valley

Plus, white attendees say the N word during E-40's set.

by Azucena Rasilla
Sun, May 27, 2018 at 9:49 AM

The Killers closed out Saturday. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NISHA GULATI (LATITUDE 38 TEAM)
  • Photo courtesy of Nisha Gulati (Latitude 38 Team)
  • The Killers closed out Saturday.

Chaos briefly hit the second day of BottleRock Napa Valley, as police arrested an armed robbery suspect within the festival.

According to the Napa Police Department, dispatch received a 9-1-1 call of an armed robbery that occurred on Hagen Road, near Silverado Trail. Two suspects left in a Hyundai, a car chase ensued, and the suspects fled into the festival on foot. Police immediately arrested one suspect, but the second wasn't located.

The incident prompted a brief lockdown. Gates to the festival were closed as police searched for the second suspect.

Most attendees inside the festival were unaware of the activity. Others seemed more concerned with the inconvenience of a potential lockdown for security reasons, and less concerned with an armed individual potentially roaming inside the festival.

Still, most of BottleRock went off without delays. My goal for BottleRock day two was to find as many people of color as possible. Saturday was, after all, the most diverse as far as the lineup was concerned — Michael Franti, Snoop Dogg, E-40, and Natalia Lafourcade were all part of the bill.

My biggest disappointment on Saturday was the sight of a sea of white people singing along to E-40. I don’t doubt that there are folks who are legitimate fans of the Bay Area legend, but there’s something extremely uncomfortable about hearing rich white people say the N word like it is not a big deal. Have they not learned anything? Clearly not. Judging by the large crowd, festival-goers chose the music over the do-or-die Warriors game happening at the same time — except E-40 himself, who cut his set short by roughly 5 minutes, probably to catch the end of the game.

View from the Midway stage while E-40 was performing. - AZUCENA RASILLA
  • Azucena Rasilla
  • View from the Midway stage while E-40 was performing.

One highlight of BottleRock every year is the food and drink selection. I checked out the Hendrick’s Gin cocktail bar, which stayed busy with a variety of signature cocktails flowing. Hendrick’s was perfectly positioned next to the Williams-Sonoma culinary stage, which remained a popular hub throughout the day with appearances by Tre Cool of Green Day with Graham Elliot; E-40, Mike D with Adam Richman; and Snoop Dogg and Warren G with Michael Voltaggio, who won the Guinness World Record for the biggest paradise cocktail made live in front of the crowd.

Hendrick's cocktails, from left to right: ruby radler, sun god, bespoke G&T, and butterfly effect. - PHOTO BY MAYRA ALFARO MARTINEZ
  • Photo by Mayra Alfaro Martinez
  • Hendrick's cocktails, from left to right: ruby radler, sun god, bespoke G&T, and butterfly effect.

Snoop Dogg stirrring the biggest paradise cocktail in the world, according to the Guinness World Records. - PHOTO BY MAYRA ALFARO MARTINEZ
  • Photo by Mayra Alfaro Martinez
  • Snoop Dogg stirrring the biggest paradise cocktail in the world, according to the Guinness World Records.
E-40, Mike D, and Adam Richman at the culinary stage. - PHOTO BY AZUCENA RASILLA
  • Photo by Azucena Rasilla
  • E-40, Mike D, and Adam Richman at the culinary stage.

Las Vegas indie rockers, The Killers, closed out day two, with a massive number of people eager to see their performance up close. What can be said about The Killers that hasn’t been said before? They put on one hell of a live performance, and lead singer Brandon Flowers is aging like the most expensive and exquisite wine from the Miner family winery.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Review: On the Lack of Brown and Black Artists at Day One of BottleRock Napa Valley

Mike D's set was a nostalgic surprise.

by Azucena Rasilla
Sat, May 26, 2018 at 10:24 AM

  • Photo courtesy of Nisha Gulati (Latitude 38 Team)
  • Matt Bellamy of Muse.

I went to BottleRock Napa Valley lamenting the lack of Brown and Black artists. In the span of the three days, there’s a whopping two Latinx artists: Colombian band Bomba Estéreo and Mexican singer Natalia Lafourcade.

Let’s start with Bomba Estéreo. Non-Spanish speaker music lovers, do not sleep on this band from Bogotá Colombia led by Li Samuet and Simón Mejía.

The Colombian powerhouse played at the Miner Family Winery Stage, the same stage that two years ago saw Fantastic Negrito. Unlike him, Bomba Estéreo has yet to win a Grammy — perhaps their eclectic and energetic set at this year’s BottleRock is the good luck charm they need to finally win it.

  • Photo courtesy of Nisha Gulati (Latitude 38 Team)

What was surprising about their set was the lack of Brown people singing and dancing along to their lyrics. One thing is for sure, the rich folks who paid for VIP and Platinum tickets certainly enjoyed Samuet’s quick and fiery freestyling. Sure, they didn’t understand a single thing, but that’s the beauty of music: It’s universal, you feel it, even if you don’t understand it. Their Afro-pop, dubstep, freestyle, psychedelia, cumbia, and champeta (a genre of folk music from the coastal regions of Colombia) sound is contagious. Even if you’ve never heard of the band, chances are you have heard their song “Soy Yo” which was part of a 2016 Target commercial.
I walked away after their set was over with an overwhelming sense of pride to be Latinx.

As I made my way between stages, my second favorite moment of day was Mike D’s DJ set. If you grew up listening to Beastie Boys, the nostalgia was sure to take over seeing him on stage. It was partly amazing to see him rocking the stage on his own, although at the same time, it was also melancholic. The death of Adam Yauch in 2012 marked the end of the Beastie Boys — not seeing Ad-Rock and MCA on stage with Mike D felt slightly unnatural.

View from the Jam Cellars (main stage) - PHOTO COURTESY OF NISHA GULATI (LATITUDE 38 TEAM)
  • Photo courtesy of Nisha Gulati (Latitude 38 Team)
  • View from the Jam Cellars (main stage)

Muse closed day one, and from the aerial views of the main stage area, it seemed that more people chose to see overrated pop duo, The Chainsmokers over the English rock legends. Can someone explain to me why The Chainsmokers are famous?

We shall see what day two has in store. E-40 is on the bill, and I’m sure he’s hating that he won’t be able to attend game six of the Western Conference finals to root for his beloved Warriors.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Bay Area Rapper Antwon Faces Fallout from Sexual Assault Allegations

by Janelle Bitker
Mon, May 21, 2018 at 11:23 AM

Rumors are circling about Antwon, the San Jose rapper who got his start in Oakland's warehouse party scene. Anonymous posts on social media and Tumblr have accused Antwon of rape and abuse over the past several months, but what's spread the word of such allegations is the breakup of Secret Circle, the underground rap group consisting of Antwon, Lil Ugly Mane, and Wiki.

On Friday, Lil Ugly Mane announced on Instagram that Secret Circle was over. "My heart is broken," he wrote. "But I won't stand by and act like everything is okay. Im glad its [sic] all gonna be out in the open."

The next morning, Antwon responded on Twitter with a lengthy but vague statement. "I've run away from my problems and blamed them on other people but all along I didn't know the problem was me and my behavior," he wrote, citing recently going into rehab for drug and alcohol abuse, "so I can get rid of my old ways of manipulating people and situations."

Lil Ugly Mane took to Instagram again to call Antwon's apology "bullshit." He clarified that he made an unspecific statement earlier because he assumed Antwon would "be accountable for his actions. ... These aren't 'allegations' and 'accusations'. this is shit you did. Im sick of all this language. We aren't talking about late night miscommunications or buyers regret, we're talking about zero fucking consent. [sic]" (Read the full statement here.)

On Twitter, Wiki stated, "Ugly and I are hurt, yes. We poured 2 years into that project. But that doesn't even register on the scale of the hurt that the victim(s) must be feeling."

So far, no sexual assault survivors have gone public with details, and Antwon has yet to release another statement. 

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tame Impala, A$AP Rocky to Headline Treasure Island Music Festival in Oakland

by Janelle Bitker
Wed, May 16, 2018 at 12:19 PM

A$AP Rocky headlines the 2018 festival. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MR. IOZO
  • Photo courtesy of Mr. iozo
  • A$AP Rocky headlines the 2018 festival.

After yesterday's surprise announcement that Treasure Island Music Festival would, indeed, be returning this fall, and to a new location in West Oakland, the fest has now released the full lineup. As with past years, the lineup focuses on indie rock and electronic acts with a solid dose of hip-hop.

This year's headliners are Tame Impala, the psychedelic rock band that became a critical darling with their 2015 record, Currents, and A$AP Rocky, the star rapper who will be releasing his third album, TESTING, this year. Other notable acts include Santigold, Courtney Barnett, Hiatus Kaiyote, and Pusha T. The festival takes place Oct. 13-14 at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. Weekend tickets go on sale this Friday at noon.

Here's the full lineup:
Tame Impala
A$AP Rocky
Silk City (Diplo + Mark Ronson)
Lord Huron
Courtney Barnett
Pusha T
Sharon Van Etten
Cigarettes After Sex
Hiatus Kaiyote
Laff Trax (Toro y Moi + Nosaj Thing)
U.S. Girls
Moses Sumney
Alex Cameron
Polo & Pan
George Fitzgerald
Soccer Mommy
Gilligan Moss

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California Honeydrops' New 'Call It Home' Video Is Full of Love for the East Bay

by Janelle Bitker
Wed, May 16, 2018 at 12:00 PM

The Express is teaming up with hometown favorites the California Honeydrops to premiere their newest music video, "Call It Home." It's the lead track off their recently released double album, Call It Home: Vol. 1 & 2.

It's a sweet, smooth, very Honeydrops-y tune featuring singer Bonnie Raitt, and the video is full of love for the East Bay, even as it changes. (The new album, as a whole, deals with both the concept of home and the changing face of Oakland.) In the video, the band members return to their busking roots and stroll through the streets of North Oakland's Bushrod neighborhood, play basketball at Bushrod Park, perform outside the Ashby BART station, and devour pizza at Cheeseboard. Serene images of Lake Merritt, the Oakland hills, and other neighborhoods are juxtaposed against shots of homeless encampments.

In support of Call It Home, the California Honeydrops play the Fillmore in San Francisco on Saturday, May 19.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Treasure Island Music Festival Moves to Oakland

The festival will take place Oct. 13-14 at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park.

by Janelle Bitker
Tue, May 15, 2018 at 10:51 AM

Kamaiyah performed despite the rain at the last Treasure Island Music Festival. - MIKE MILLER/FILE PHOTO
  • Mike Miller/File Photo
  • Kamaiyah performed despite the rain at the last Treasure Island Music Festival.

After a yearlong hiatus, Treasure Island Music Festival announced today that it will return to the Bay Area at a new location: Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland.

The festival will take place Oct. 13-14, promising more indie jams, no overlapping sets, and a similar, laid-back vibe. What the new Oakland location allows is far more and easier transportation options, regardless of which side of the bridge you're coming from. Middle Harbor Shoreline Park sits along the water, with views of the San Francisco skyline, close to the West Oakland BART station. It successfully held the Blurry Vision music festival this past weekend.

The final Treasure Island Music Festival to be held on Treasure Island was the 10th edition back in 2016. The lineup suggested a blowout with headliners Ice Cube and Sigur Ros, but there were problems due to massive rainstorms and heavy winds. Multiple sets were cancelled, a woman was hit by a vending machine that blew over, and thousands of people left soon after arriving. At the time, it wasn't clear whether the festival would continue, in part because of scheduled development at the original site.

Stay tuned for the lineup announcement.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Photo Essay: On #510Day Our People Are Oakland

by Azucena Rasilla
Fri, May 11, 2018 at 12:15 PM

  • Photo by Azucena Rasilla

Recently, a video where a woman called the police on a Black family who was barbecuing at Lake Merritt went viral, and several local and national outlets published pieces on the outraging incident. While it is important to call awareness on such harassment of Oakland natives, it is even more crucial to highlight the ways in which longtime Oakland residents celebrate their time in The Town — barbecuing, listening to music, playing drums, riding bikes, and continuing the mundane activities they grew up with, long before newcomers were able to pinpoint Oakland on a map.

The banning of recreational activities around the lake is nothing new. Oakland natives have dealt with this for decades. In the past few years, it has gone from clashes with the police to the uncomfortable angry looks from new residents around the area who are oblivious to the #TownBiz culture that has prevailed despite confrontations with the law and the rapid wave of gentrification sweeping through Oakland. Now, instead of just dealing with the cops, Oakland natives are faced with angry confrontations at the hands of those disturbed and annoyed at what goes on at the lake on a sunny day.

#510Day is the one day of the year where Oakland natives reclaim the lake for a day of music, laugher, unity, and good times.

The Express was there to witness the hugs, handshakes, dancing, chatting, babies playing — while others basked in the sunny and breezy weather, ate good food, and sang along to classic tracks like Mistah Fab’s  “New Oakland” and Keak Da Sneak’s “Super Hyphy.”

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