L.A. acts like Warpaint, Odd Future, Foster the People and Best Coast have really been making the festival circuit rounds this summer, and this past weekend at Outside Lands in San Francisco was no exception. Eight L.A. artists — including Best Coast and Foster the People — were on the bill.
But while the intoxicated masses were singing along to well-known songs about pumped up kicks and boyfriends, a handful of up-and-comers showed us there's something new under the sun in L.A. music. Here are the three best local bands at Outside Lands.
If L.A. is a city of transplants, then Grouplove are fine ambassadors. The eclectic pop quintet has spent time in Brooklyn, London and even Greece, where the gang met during a summer art residency. They eventually relocated to L.A. to make music together, and their sound–something between Arcade Fire and Architecture in Helsinki, with a healthy dose of funk–quickly caught on. Their debut LP drops Sept. 13 on Atlantic, and they've already had tunes on shows like Entourage. Their Outside Lands gig was easily the most joy-filled set of the entire fest, and it was hard to tell who was having more fun: the band or the crowd. Grouplove just might represent the death of irony in L.A. music, and we couldn't be more ready for 'em.
You can catch Grouplove Thursday, Sept. 22 at The Wiltern
2. Ximena Sariñana
Ximena Sariñana isn't just another indie-cute singer/songwriter chick. Born in Guadalajara and raised partially in L.A., the 25-year-old already has an impressive creative track record: she enjoyed success as a child actress in Mexico before moving on to front the jazz-funk band Feliz No Cumpleaños. She released her first solo record — Mediocre, which is in Spanish — in 2008, to critical acclaim, and her self-titled English debut dropped earlier this month.
Though that album is just a couple of weeks old, the songstress drew a huge crowd at Outside Lands, who eagerly sang along in both languages.
Sariñana herself is shy, similarly to Joanna Newsom, hiding behind her keyboard and a pair of geek-chic glasses. But songs like the smoldering “Tuo Y Yo” reveal a voice that is always subtle, deep and seductive. She's fiercely intelligent and wise, making comparisons to Fiona Apple easy, but the music itself is as diverse as her background. From pensive electro numbers like “Echo Park” to the piano pop of “Different,” Sariñana's music is united by a feeling rather than a sound.
Ximena Sariñana plays Thursday, Oct. 6 at Culture Collide
Orgone might be the most accomplished L.A. band you've never heard of. Since forming in 2002, they've played with Breakestra, Alicia Keys and Macy Gray and have released three full-length albums. The North Hollywood-based octet churns out a blend of funk, soul, Afrobeat and jazz that's refreshingly organic–and long overdue–for a city as diverse as L.A.
Live, guitarist Sergio Rios and his band mates riff masterfully off of each other, working even the most languid concertgoers into a boogie. Singer Niki J. Crawford is effortlessly sexy in jeans and a t-shirt, with plenty of hip-grinding and thigh-squeezing to accompany her seductive howl. During their set at Outside Lands, the monitor engineer was dancing so hard that he didn't notice that the right PA had popped and shorted out midway through the set. Who could blame him?
Orgone returns home Thursday, Sept. 1 for a gig at the Levitt Pavilion.