Starfucker and Cold War Kids

The gates opened for ASPB’s Block Party at 5:30 p.m. and thousands of UCR students flooded the grounds. Donned in what seemed to be their most attractive festival wear, indie music fans ran first for the main stage where Portland band, Starfucker, would soon perform. Concert Directors Jenny Guzman and Nneoma Akubuilo hosted the evening and passed out t-shirts displaying “I <3 ASPB,” which the crowd seemed to go wild for. Though Guzman wasn’t allowed to say the first band’s name, the crowd screamed in anticipation as she left and four boys out of an Urban Outfitters catalog walked on stage. Joshua Hodges (vocals, keyboards, guitar, drums), Shawn Glassford (bass, keyboards, drums), Keil Corcoran (drums, keyboards, vocals) and Patrick Morris (guitar keyboard, vocals) hardly said anything to the crowd except to introduce themselves and mention that the weather was nice. They seemed to be detached from the audience, but it was refreshing to see that they were there to do one thing: play music. Shawn Glassford danced in the small space in front of the drums and occasionally gave a smile to the cameras in the press pit. After the first few songs, it became apparent that every member would, at some point, play the drums. Drum sticks scattered the floor of the stage for any member to pick up and beat the extra tom drum savagely. However, it wasn’t until the band played, “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second” that the crowd really began to get into it. Afterward, the heavily electronic, party music made the crowd move a little more and by the end, the last song’s gigantic crescendo of madness had the crowd in awe. As soon as Starfucker left the stage, a swarm of people with even cooler clothes came out of nowhere and rushed to the front. As I entered the press pit, I heard a girl say, “Oh my God. Kill me now. Like seriously, I could die.” Cold War Kids took their place and began to play “Mexican Dogs.” They were a little more interactive with the audience, asking them to say hello to Dom Kennedy and Nelly, who would perform soon after, but they mostly just stuck to playing their music and maintaining their “cool guy” vibe. The crowd moved and bobbed just as Cold War Kids did on stage, especially when they played their most popular hit, “Hang Me Out To Dry.” Even with their recent changes, losing guitarist Jonnie Russell and gaining Dann Gallucci (Modest Mouse), Cold War Kids seemed as tight as ever. Frontman Nathan Willett said in an interview after their performance that their new album, the title of which remains a secret, had just been finished that day and will be released in February of next year. “This record was a lot of me writing the melody and some chords and the rest of the band kind of working and filling it in together in the studio,” Willett said. He said it was a new take on what they had been used to in recording their previous albums. Though he is excited to play their new music, Willett said they refrain from debuting the songs before they feel they're ready and instead stick with classics such as “Louder Than Ever.” With artistic influences such as The Clash, Nina Simone and Cat Power, Cold War Kids did not fail to give a fantastic show to UCR students Friday night. As they finished their last song, even more students rushed to wait for Dom Kennedy and Nelly to storm the stage. I will certainly be looking forward to the release of the new Cold War Kids album come February. Lastly, an interesting fact: during their Europe tour, Nathan Willett was stuck in the bottom of a ferry because he fell asleep in the tour bus. Dom Kennedy and Nelly

Anyone who is familiar with Dom Kennedy’s music knows that Dom has a very particular style—one characterized by his unique voice, smooth demeanor and good-living-California raps. When he took to the stage on Friday at Block Party, his performance reflected that perfectly. The Cold War Kids had successfully brought a sizeable crowd towards the stage and Kennedy took advantage. His opening song, “When I Come Around,” was an unconventional choice but one that would set the mood. He gave a high-energy rendition of the song, which is off of his mixtape “From the Westside, With Love II.”

Covered in Stussy from his blue hat to his long sleeve shirt and sweatpants, Kennedy wasted no time in offering the crowd his biggest record to date, “My Type of Party.” The reaction from the crowd showed their amusement and their familiarity with the record. After that, Dom continued to perform songs from his latest release “The Yellow Album,” and took time to introduce members of his Other People’s Money (OPM) crew such as Niko G4 who delivered his verse from “PG Click.”

Given a chance to catch his breath, he took to the crowd with a rejuvenated attitude. He instructed all “the single fellas to say ‘what up Dom?’” and all “single ladies to say ‘oww.’” With his focus on bringing together the opposite sexes, the claps from “The Ways” kicked in. This commenced a specific part of his performance that showcased his many female-dedicated songs. “I Love Dom” and “Bet You Want Me Now” slowed things down for a bit, allowing many to savor the Block Party atmosphere. He brought the energy back with “CDC” and once again brought out one of his partners, Casey Veggies, to bless UCR with his verse from the song.

Reaching the latter part of his performance, Dom decided to do some of his more classic material. “1997” and “Watermelon Sundae” were done back to back, allowing everyone a deeper glimpse into his repertoire. Perhaps a newer classic for the artist, “Gold Alpinas,” was introduced as one of his favorite songs off his new album, and he a gave soulful rendition of it. Lastly, he chose to keep his composure with “125” after encouraging the crowd to follow their dreams and goals. With a strong set, the California native managed to bring Leimert Park to Riverside. Much love from the Westside indeed.

Soon after, UCR was taken on a trip to the Midwest countryside, not to mention a trip down memory lane. The whole area reached another decibel level when Nelly appeared, equipped with every hit that brought seniors back to elementary school. He struck first with “Party People,” clearly communicating his intentions for the night. After only one verse from the song, he moved on to “E.I” and it became evident that people are still fans of “Country Grammar.”

Nelly continued to run through his many classics, giving only one verse of the song at times or even just the hooks. “Shake Ya Tailfeather,” “Where The Party At” and “Batter Up,” were simply warm ups for others such as “Air Force Ones.”

In a sea of skinny jean wearing college students, “give me two purrrrs” was the mantra. Nelly kept the shoe theme going with “Stepped On My J’z” and then began talking to the crowd. In an attempt to “weed out the fakers” who did not know his older material, he returned to “Country Grammar” and performed the title track. Without any discretion to the audience, he stopped rapping and watched to see how many actually knew the lyrics. It was his way of authenticating the performance. This feeling was further enhanced with members of the St. Lunatics such as City Spud on stage with him. City Spud gave an a capella verse from “Ride With Me” to introduce the song which once again generated a huge response from everyone. After that, the performance began taking a different direction. “Grillz,” “Move That Body,” and his latest single “Marry Go Round,” played like a timeline for the artist whose career blossomed alongside the experiences of those looking on. He continued with various covers and remixes to songs such as T-Pain’s “All I Do Is Win,” Waka Flocka Flame’s “No Hands,” and Drake’s “The Motto,” which efficiently showed his influence on the newer generation of artists.

Then, Nelly allowed for an intermission of his performance for the sake of playing to his female fans. He requested that three ladies from the crowd be brought up on stage for a simple contest. Once the ladies were brought up, he instructed each one to walk across the stage or as he put it, “from hurr to there,” with confidence. The moment allowed for some humor and interaction from everybody and allowed Nelly to brilliantly segue into “Over and Over” and “Flap Your Wings,” which he performed to the ladies who participated. As if making every boyfriend a little uneasy wasn’t enough, Nelly took his shirt off to fully convey “Hot In Herre” and drive it home.

Soon after, he turned all the screaming and hysteria into harmony when he asked the ladies to sing Kelly Rowland’s hook from “The Dilemma.” It was a charismatic moment, watching the performer connect with the audience. It allowed everyone to return from the partying and energy softly, to the last song, “Just a Dream.” With that, Nelly crooned his goodbye and Block Party came to a gentle close.