If you logged into any form of social media over the weekend, you probably know that this was weekend one of Coachella. And if you’re in my boat, you’re horribly bitter because you definitely can’t afford the time or the money to trek down to Southern California. It’s okay. Let’s revel in the fact that no one camping gets to take a real shower for three days.
In all seriousness, though, we’re lucky, because there’s no reason to miss out on the Coachella lineup just because we live in Northern California. In fact, thanks to Coachella, April marks one of the best months of music each year in the Bay Area. A few years back, editors at Bay Area music blog Spinning Platters coined the term “Fauxchella,” to describe the influx of great live music to the west coast from bands on their way to Coachella. In contrast to the festival, these smaller events tend to draw crowds that are more interested in seeing the individual artist, and they come with $20-50 price tags compared to Coachella’s $400.
This year is no exception. Venues across the Bay Area are booked solid for the next two weeks with awesome artists off the Coachella lineup. The following are profiles of a few of the Fauxchella shows I think will be most worth going to.
Girlpool – Rickshaw Stop – 4/19 – $12
Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad make up Girlpool, a two piece folk punk band from Los Angeles and Philadelphia. If you went to the kickass all female showcase at XOX with Kimya Dawson towards the end of last quarter, Girlpool’s music might sound familiar. A writer at PopMatters described Girlpool as “an angrier, socially conscious Kimya Dawson” after the release of their first EP. (The comparison is a good one, though I would certainly argue that Kimya Dawson is socially conscious in her own right.) The show is at The Rickshaw Stop, a tiny venue with string lights, craft beer, and a capacity of just 400. At $12, this show is a steal and a must see.
Grimes & Tei Shi – Fox Oakland Theater – 4/20 – $35
Grimes is the moniker of Claire Boucher, a twenty-eight year old producer from Vancouver known for her experimental music and eccentric style of dress. Tei Shi is an Argentinian indie pop singer songwriter currently making music out of Brooklyn whose vocal prowess is only matched by her skill at indie-pop musical production. I saw Grimes at the Treasure Island Music Festival in 2012, and her live set was just as trippy as her recorded work. She decked out her synth in plastic cherry blossoms and wailed into a microphone while contorting herself in a sparkly plastic veil. The opportunity to see Grimes work her magic at a headlining show, with an opener as cool as Tei Shi, on 4/20, isn’t one to pass up.
Rhye – Regency Ballroom – 4/20 – $35
Another awesome 4/20 option is seeing Rhye at the Regency. Rhye is an R&B music duo from Los Angeles made up of Mike Milosh and Robin Hannibal. Their full length album Woman is a work of art. When I saw them in 2013 at Outside Lands, the drunk middle aged woman next to me emphatically declared that this album had revolutionized her sex life. After listening through it myself, I have to concur that I see where she was coming from: it is, in my opinion, one of the sexiest albums of all time. They’ve got the critical recognition to back this claim up, as Woman was longlisted for the Canadian Polaris Music Prize, and their live shows are often raved about across the board. The first time I saw them play a headlining set was at the Fox Oakland Theater, where they transformed the general admission downstairs that is usually home to a standing pit into entirely seating room and treated us all to a ninety minute orchestral set. The set was unique, moving, and something you absolutely could not experience at Coachella.
M83 – The Catalyst – 4/23 – $40.50
M83 is the French electronic music group of “Midnight City” fame. Though Midnight City peaked at number five on the US Alternative charts and was desperately overplayed on every indie radio station in summer 2011, the band’s discography is so much deeper than this one track. I also saw them at Treasure Island Music Festival in 2012, and they played a set composed around Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming complete with fog machines and a full, five or six piece live band. The set was over-the-top dramatic, and I cried. I’m super intrigued to see what their show at The Catalyst will be like, because the venue is tiny. I’ve never seen a large, international act like M83 booked at The Catalyst, let alone an act known for touring with a complete live band. The venue is a bit of a trek, as it’s located in Santa Cruz, but this show is definitely not one to miss.
Chronixx – The Catalyst – 4/21 – $25
Chronixx is a twenty-three year old Jamaican reggae and dancehall artist named Jamar McNoughton. Recognized by critics and fans alike as artist to watch, his presence on the Coachella lineup has been lauded as a huge success both for Jamaican musicians and for dancehall music. He started out his career providing production assistance for some of the biggest names in dancehall including Konshens, Munga Honorable, and Popcaan and began releasing his own music at the age of sixteen in 2009, resulting in huge commercial success in Jamaica and a feature on the Major Lazer-curated mixtape Start A Fire. His 2014 EP Dread & Terrible has seen success in both the United States and Jamaica, and single-handedly landed him on this year’s Coachella bill. His energetic set was extremely well received at Coachella weekend one and is definitely a must see this week in beachy Santa Cruz.
Beach House – Location TBA – 4/26 – $60
I wasn’t completely sure whether to include this show on my Fauxchella list, because it’s actually a part of Beach House’s installation show series. Nevertheless, they are playing Coachella, and this show is located in San Francisco shortly after weekend two, so I think it counts. Beach House is a moody dream pop duo from Baltimore consisting of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, and their installation show series sounds awesome. The shows are in art spaces, galleries, or other cultural centers across the country with a max capacity of 200 people. All locations are kept secret until attendees receive an email with further information 36 hours before the show. In a press release, the band explained the concept behind the series as a desire to express through more than one medium the inspiration behind their work. At $60, tickets are a little steep, but for such a unique show it’s definitely worth it.
ZHU – Fox Oakland Theater – 4/26 – $29.50
ZHU is the stage name of Stephen Zhu, somewhat of a mystery man from the San Francisco Bay Area. If you’ve been to a Stanford frat party in the past year and a half, you’ve probably heard ZHU’s hit “Faded.” The track’s hook of “Baby, I’m wasted/all I want to do is drive home to you” was the anthem of 2014. Until the song was nominated for a Grammy, ZHU chose to stay in the shadows, asking that people talk about his music, not his person. Two years later, having released further hits “Working For It” and “In The Morning” and working with big name artists such as Skrillex, AlunaGeorge, and ODESZA, people have begun to ask more questions, and his shows promise to have some answers. Check out ZHU’s hometown show at the Fox Oakland Theater next Tuesday to get an exclusive peek into the man behind the dance hits.
This is just a small sample of what Fauxchella has to offer. I highly encourage fellow live music aficionados to scour Songkick in the next few days and see what else is out there that you might find interesting. Fauxchella is a great opportunity to see some of the Coachella lineup on a budget, in a more intimate setting than a festival, all while remaining in Northern California (the better half of our state, of course). What more can you ask for?