For those of you who live in Santa Barbara, you are already familiar with New Noise. For those of you who don't, New Noise is a nonprofit organization who puts on the annual New Noise Santa Barbara Music Conference & Festival, which just went down this past weekend (It also deserves to be noted that they throw shows and events for the community during the other 361 days of the year as well). Since the fest's first year in 2009, notables such as Jack Johnson, The Growlers, HAIM, Andrew WK, and many others. This year boasted what was arguably their best line-up to date (At least to this old, jaded music snob), with Run The Jewels headlining, along with appearances from artists such as the Tijuana Panthers, Prayers, Fashawn, and more. Being that we do have a business to run (As well as our livers not being what they once were), we had to make some tough decisions as to who to check out and who to catch next time. In the end, Prayers and RTJ were our logical decisions as the unable-to-miss acts (Again, based on personal taste).
I've got to say, other than my friend Sara and her audio assault known as Youth Code, I'm not huge into the Goth/Industrial scene. At all. However, YC won me over after watching their insane live performance after Amigo The Devil opened for them at a show in San Diego back in 2013. My ears didn't stop ringing for two days. San Diego's Prayers had intrigued me since watching the "Young Gods" video a couple of months back, and learning of the growing "Cholo Goth" movement. They are backed by travis barker, and just released their debut EP in June, which you can pick up HERE. Being that they were playing across the street at Velvet Jones, I really had no excuse to not go check out the leaders of an entirely new subculture, something which I consider a rarity in these days of rehashed movies, music, and movements (I told you earlier, I'm jaded). Well, what was true of Youth Code turned out to be true of Prayers. They put on one hell of a live show. Frontman Rafa has all the makings of a modern day Morrissey, except he'll probably break your jaw if you come at him wrong, and unlike the aforementioned diva, he's as humble as they come. Immediately following their set, he went straight into the crowd to connect with his fans. Your favorite rapper doesn't do that. His counterpart Dave Parley was no slouch on stage, either. He masterfully handled his MPC duties, and provided a seamless soundscape. The crowd went the fuck off, the kids knew all the words, and I walked away a fan of Prayers.
Run The Jewels
Unlike Prayers, I have been familiar with both jewel runners' Killer Mike and El-P's catalogues for some time. For those who have been living under the Rock of Gibraltar, Killer Mike is Atlanta's answer to Ice Cube, and El-P is hip-hop's quintessential rapper/producer, with a career that spans decades, and a resume that includes owning underground hip hop label staple Definitive Jux, as well as being a member of the seminal hip hop group Company Flow. Yes, let's get it out of the way, Killer Mike was the dude with the guest verse in that Outkast song you couldn't go anywhere without hearing circa 2003. But if that's all you know of his solo work, do some fucking homework. I'm not gonna spoon-feed you everything. Run The Jewels came about as a result of Killer Mike's superb 2012 release, "R.A.P. Music," for which all of the production duties were handled by El-P. The chemistry was undeniable, and Run The Jewels was formed. They have since incessantly toured both nationally and internationally, and performed at festivals such as that magical place in the desert where hipsters and corporations meet to have a 3 day orgy (AKA Coachella). If you're playing a 6:55 slot on Saturday night at that shitshow, your career trajectory is on a steady rise. No sarcasm whatsoever intended, to be clear. Anyone who has seen Run The Jewels live will tell you how incredible experiencing them live is, and New Noise 2015 was no exception. They have an energy akin to what my elders described to me as what they felt when they attended Public Enemy shows in the late 80's. Politically charged rhymes, incredibly high energy from all performers, and an all-out war on your eardrums. What the fuck else could one possibly want from a Rap show? They delivered on all of these fronts, and surpassed even this old bastard's expectations. It's good to know that there are groups like RTJ that are on a platform big enough to really give the youth some Edutainment, as KRS-1 would say, instead of the same old privatized-prison-filling messages that major labels' "urban" departments have been relentlessly shoving down our throats for the past ___ years. Not only that, but there's nothing like watching guys who you can actually tell are friends off the stage doing what they absolutely love, and doing a damn good job of it.
I was a drunk guy with an iPhone. Not a photographer.
Wolf's Head Co-Founder Ruben with New Noise SB founder Jeff Theimer & Jon Gize
In closing, I'll say this. Shout out to New Noise Santa Barbara. They don't have to do all of the work necessary to put these festivals on, but they do because they clearly love music, and the community they live in. If the other shows that I was unable to attend were half as good as the two I was (Which I'm sure they were), then you guys deserve a long vacation, and a lot of gratitude from the community you put on for. From all of us here at Wolf's Head, Thank You.
P.S. I'm fucking bummed I missed Fashawn.