Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Thawing Out After SnowGlobe Music Festival

January 10th, 2017

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All images courtsey SnowGlobe Music Festival


“Whataboutahit? Of your love…”

We could hear the piano intro to Hayden James’s “Something About You” with the familiar twist that ODESZA put on their version.

I was still numb after they played a boisterous trappy remix of Alex Adair’s “Make Me Feel Better.” The melodic dancey hit had turned into a huge sound thanks to the duo’s drum line and live trombone.

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How is he playing that trombone in this freezing weather? I wondered as my entire body was covered in goosebumps, and for the first time all weekend it wasn’t from the cold.

ODESZA was on and it was almost midnight.

“Will it ever click? Are you a freak? You turn and face me. Maybe this time I’ll choose.”

The snares (now being played on the drum machine) were loud and tight tapping out the buildup along with the piano and live guitar. I noticed that my hands were in fists and every muscle in my body was clenched.

“I can’t think of a better way to bring in the New Year!” Clayton Knight said on the mic as the bundled up crowd went apeshit. Tap-Tap-Tap-Tap-Tap-Tap the snares went in double-time while the crescendo became too much to bear. I don’t think I was even breathing.

“Ten! Nine! Eight!” the crowd started counting along with the huge numbers on the LED screen on the stage.

Then 2016 was finally over.

Huge fireworks exploded over our heads and the freaky-weird drop that made ODESZA’s remix of this track one of the greatest ever made blew through the crowd like a nuclear bomb with smoke and lights. The tall evergreen trees surrounding the back of the main stage were lit up making the festival look like a movie set.

Ok. I thought. This moment right now made braving the cold weather worth it.

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I tried not to look around as tears were streaming down my face. Everyone was making out anyway. Trying to keep my balance in the icey packed snow I carefully waddled back over to the VIP area to stand under one of the heat lamps and thaw out. Dancing isn’t as easy with huge snow boots on slippery snow and that was my only plan to stay warm.

I watched the rest of ODESZA's set from the warm pocket under one of the four working heat lamps feeling physically blown back by their big sound. It really was the best set I’ve ever heard. A huge difference from the last time I saw them at the Spotify house at SXSW in 2015, and that show was already pretty mind-blowing.

These two make me proud to hail from Washington state. I just hope they can find their way to Hawai’i someday. Until then, I’m happy to travel to see them.

SnowGlobe Music Festival had its ups and downs for me. It turns out watching your favorite music in the cold isn’t as exciting as I had hoped. I felt awkward in so many layers and always waddling so carefully around the festival so I wouldn’t be one of the dozens I saw falling down. For them it's a cute oopsie-daisy but for me with my still-weak immune system it could mean the rest of my trip in the ER. I had to enjoy this and stay healthy. The walk to the parking was endless and Lyft and Uber were taking advantage of the cold weather. The first night it cost me $30 to go 1.2 miles.

The good was worth the bad. The close proximity of the three stages kept the "festival feet" (after Coachella my feet felt like pools of blood) to a minimum. The stage in between the two big outdoor stages was an indoor tent so you could thaw out while watching epic house sets from people like CLASSIXX (who opened with the danciest, most fun remix of George Michael’s “Faith” I’ve ever heard), Gavin Turek (a Los Angeles R&B darling that stole the show), Pat Lok, and Poolside.

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Outdoor stage standouts included a nostalgic trippy set by Manila Killa on the Sierra stage and a surprise visit by rising star Jai Wolf, Lido’s beautiful and deliberate live set and Mr Carmack with his Native American dancer and dream-trap on the main stage. Also (of course) Rufus Du Sol who is still one of the greatest performing acts on tour I’ve seen in a while. Flume played all of his best with his signature big sound and even though I missed RL Grime I could feel him shaking the earth from the Igloo indoor tent while the artists were switching over. The set times had long intermissions that made it seem easier to catch everyone I wanted to see, and there was never a time where I felt like I was missing one act to see another. A festival first for me.

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The after-parties were worth the investment, as the crowd went from thousands outside to a hundred or less inside an artsy upscale restaurant where the owners kept a close watch on everyone. You could tell they were not too jazzed about these “raver kids” invading their space but I guess everyone likes money. I stayed until the lights came on both nights, dancing in the middle of the restaurant with the tables and chairs moved aside to my old friend JPatt from The Knocks (a master at the afters) and Gavin from Walker & Royce.

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“See? It’s an older crowd” I heard someone telling the guy that had to be in charge because he was glaring at all of us the entire time both nights. The second night even better with a b2b2b set including Justin Jay and his trumpet player, saxophone player, Benny Bridges, Josh Taylor were laying out tons of deep house and techno unreleased bangers. Nights like these are my favorite.

Thinking about checking this one out? Here’s some things I made note of:

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Age Appropriate

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The festival is all ages and family friendly. It was heart warming to see so many parents able to enjoy the event with their little ones, especially when they were thoughtful enough to give them hearing protection. There were hundreds of concert goers in their thirties, forties even fifties among the co-eds. “You’re here by yourself? That’s so cool!” one young girl in silver bun huggers and white tutu said to me while we waited for the bathroom. The raver bro ratio was delightfully low for an event on a college campus.

Schedule and Lineups
The stages are close and have intermissions between acts which makes it easier to catch everyone you want to see.

Plenty of Food and Shelter
There was a long line of food vendors with outstanding menu items and a couple of indoor lounges to eat and thaw out of needed. Only the VIP had heat lamps that I saw. Either way it was good to have these places to duck into between acts.

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Invest in VIP
The accelerated entrance, viewing platforms, warm lamps, always available restrooms, dedicated bars and main stage lounge with more heaters and couches make the extra investment very much worth it. I saw a lot of the talent hanging out in there too.

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For the money, the shuttle is your best bet getting to and from the event. They drop you off the closest to the entrance and as long as you get a hotel close to the shuttle pickup points the walking (and freezing) is much more limited. Parking is expensive and far. Ten minute walk is actually twenty minutes and in the late night unforgiving sub zero temperatures it feels like forty-five minutes.

Brrr, South Lake Tahoe
For as cold as it was, the weather was very cooperative and it didn’t start snowing until the day I was heading out of South Lake Tahoe. This was a good and a bad thing as the cold wasn’t as cold as it COULD have been. Still, layering merino wool and long johns with a goose-down jacket and another winter coat felt like I was wearing toilet paper by the end of the night. Keeping your feet dry and warm is critical. I almost got frost bite because I didn’t realize my toes were wet. Bring extra socks every day and keep those little hand warmers in your backpack in case you get wet.
Check the weather before you go. Driving out of Tahoe in the snowstorm I had to stop and get tire chains and install them on my rental car and then travel in a long line of traffic going 7 miles per hour slipping and sliding on the roads for 50 miles. I was estimating getting to the airport by 2pm. I didn’t arrive until 10pm.

Next bucket list festival for me? The Spirit Festival in Bali, Indonesia. Stay tuned.

Destination Snow Globe

December 25th, 2016

The weather in Honolulu has been so cold lately but I’m loving it. This is the weather I grew up with in Washington state. Layering clothing, having to wear socks, it’s bringing me back to my roots as Honolulu city dips to the low 60’s here and there.

I remember fondly one Christmas I was laying in bed looking at everyone’s Snapchat stories, a habit I’ve since kicked but back then it was what I called “Snapping myself to sleep.” I saw my buddy Scott Harding was also alone on Christmas with his family back in Brisbane so I went over to his place so we could both be alone together. We got drunk on Bunderberg rum and our friend Noil Bee came over before his flight to Tahoe. Noil was going to some music festival in the snow and every time he took a shot he popped on the floor and did a few push ups. He was going to Snow Globe Music Festival in Lake Tahoe. Flume was playing and I was very jealous. For some reason right then that image of seeing Flume performing his wildly euphoric music in the snow with fireworks overhead became a bucket list experience for me.

Skip ahead to now.


I’m leaving this week for the Snowglobe Music Festival. I caught the earlybird VIP 3-day pass months ago so I’m going to be all over that piece. Best part? The homeys Carmack and JPatt are performing. The Knocks! This is the first time I’ll be able to watch them do what they do live and what I wanted them to do at my 2012 birthday party but couldn’t because Ben didn’t come out, only JPatt. It worked out totally fine though, the only people who really heard of them back then was other DJs and JPatt killed it and we became super-connected from that gig. Hence, Pow Wow music artist circa 2013 and 2014.

Anyway, I’m going. I’m going alone. To experience this cold to experience this music and just be alive and happy.

The lineup is glorious and if I learned anything from Coachella it’s don’t get married to a specific schedule. Be flexible and go with the flow. For me I have a few must-sees but everything else can be chill. Flume, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Carmack, Poolside, Classixx, Manila Killa and of course The Knocks are hopefully happening. The rest I'll discover while I'm there, being cold.

If you don't already, follow my story on Snapchat that's where I'll be posting. The actual festival dates are Dec 29, 30 and 31st. I'm bringing my camera (thanks Flash!) and will post a recap when I get back too. I haven't been this excited for a destination festival since BPM. I hope this is influence for you reading this to make a list of the things you most want to do, then do them.

See you guys in 2017.

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The Campbells: Just Doing Their Part

August 8th, 2016

Waikiki was rocked in June for a colorful collaboration between Chinatown retail neighbors Barrio Vintage and Roberta Oaks, who could easily be the coolest kids in that district, alongside the Human Imagination.

These are the places you can shop when you don’t know how to shop. Pretty much anything you pick up from their carefully curated racks could be your new uniform.

The show was a good excuse for me to show some friends the new SurfJack Hotel; the new hipster sanctuary on the mauka side of Lewar’s Street in the new developing Waikiki. If you haven’t been there yet, I highly suggest creating an occasion to have dinner at Mahina & Suns. It’s worth it.

This particular night I was there was also indeed worth it.

I finally got to meet Simone! Brandon and Nicole Reid (Manifest Hawaii)’s new daughter and just see so many faces I had only been lurking online for the past few months.

It was a treat to see everyone stepping out in their styliest oxford shoes, 60’s and psychedelic inspired dresses and shirts and of course their favorite Roberta Oaks vintage aloha shirts or something off the rack at the carefully curated vintage boutique Barrio Vintage.

One of my favorite looks to see anywhere in town is whatever model, minister and musician Leelu Campbell is wearing. You would know her if you saw her. She takes personal style very seriously but is also so kind and approachable.

I first saw her and her husband Greg Campbell when I happened to be at one of those Lux parties at Trump and was feeling a bit out of place in my $20 dress. My jaw dropped to the floor at their effortless style and tall model-esque frames. I saw them and was like “Hi. You two are the styliest people here, can we be friends?” Before I could hate myself for being shallow, taken away so much by their appearance, I discovered that they are great people, having dedicated their life to cultivating their own creativity and making an impact in this world.

Little did I know at the time, I was now hob-knobbing with the one and only L.E.E.L.U. (Learning Every Experience Loves Universally) and Quality Music. A highly creative power-couple that’s low-key living their best lives in Honolulu.

Skip ahead a few years and Greg Campbell (also known as “Quality Music”) is turning up major at my pool party at the Marriott making a promo video for his sand-rimmed fly af wayfarer shades featuring his wife's vocals. I still have those glasses he gave me that day.

That was 2012.

In 2016 they are still cruise speed ahead, having created an organization called "Just Doing Our Part.” A networking specifically for industries that offer service to their community. (I know right!)

After seeing them at the Barrio Vintage x Roberta Oaks “Psychedelic Swell” show I stalked them online until I could get Leelu to tell me more about this.

"We believe that offering service to your community reinforces compassion and empathy within humanity.” Leelu wrote back to me in an E-mail. "Just Doing Our Part identifies community needs and provides resources through its network partners as assistance.”

"We believe we are creating a coalition of people who value 'Getting It Done!’"

As someone who’s always considered themselves a “connector” I can appreciate them starting this so very much.

One of their first partners is the local underground radio show you may not even know about called Sandy Scoops. You might not know about it NOT because you’re not “underground enough,” it’s only been around since November of last year.

"Quality recognized the enormous amount of underground talent locally in Hawaii and decided to create a radio station to share the scene with the world.” Leelu wrote to me.

"As an audio engineer for over 12 years he has not only had the opportunity to develop an ear for music, but work his passion into a major broadcasting opportunity.” Quality also makes himself available to engineer live or studio sessions.

"With continued community support we expect to be a major source for anyone looking to find out more about the underground music scene in Honolulu.” Leelu wrote.

Another partner working with “Just Doing Our Part” is Leelu’s personal website which is a great window into her life experiences. She is truly an artist, but also a writer, musician and mother. I dare you not to fall down the rabbit hole of her music and sultry vocals. If you're a regular at the Motown on Monday at Dragon Upstairs you may have seen her crooning on the mic with her husband close by providing his own music. Together, they are a living example of the phrase "Power Couple" which I use to describe two people who are fully committed to their own success and happiness and have found a way to inspire and encourage each other. This is how you do that.

Watch out for these two.

Lucky No. 8 for Soulgasm

November 18th, 2015

For as long as I've known about Lyanne Brooks' Soulgasm party, I knew there was a safe haven tucked away where all I needed to do was show up and my heart would be full of love — and my feet would be moving.

House music, dancing and smiles. That's just about it; these are things that seem very simple, yet go beyond the norm in Honolulu nightlife.



With special guest Brian Coxx

» Where: Bar 35, 35 N. Hotel St.

» When: 9 p.m. Friday

» Cost: $10

» Info:

I had a chance to speak with Brooks, 41, via email about the party's eight-year anniversary. It's a very lucky number and also a very long time for a party to last in this town. Congratulations!

HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER: Where did you go to School?

LYANNE BROOKS: Princess Kaiulani (was the) elementary school where I first started dancing at recess in the '80s.

SA: When did you get in to dance and why?

LB: I've always moved to music and all kinds of music, I loved it all. But the first times I remember learning actual dance moves were as a youngster dancing with my Polynesian friends in the '80s to funk, soul, electro, and early hip-hop music.

SA:Can you tell me where the first Soulgasm was?

LB: Lotus Soundbar in Waikiki as a Wednesday night weekly.

SA:What is your advice on keeping a party going for eight years?

LB: Personally, I believe being part of the scene and a contributor to it is what gave me a solid base to work from. It helps to understand that we are all a part of what makes things happen as a participant or an organizer, that there's a relationship.

Some key things in keeping a party is doing good business, be willing to sacrifice your time and energy, dedication to hard work, consistency and quality of service. What you share is something you can always stand by and something people will feel besides just you and your crew, especially if you find that you're not about following the trends. There's a delicate balance.

KIMBERLY SEKOLyanne Brooks celebrates 8 years of Soulgasm Hawaii at Bar35 this weekend


Lyanne Brooks celebrates eight years of Soulgasm Hawaii at Bar 35 this weekend.

If you have something different to offer you also want to keep in mind that it has nothing to do with being the biggest party or the baddest or that everyone should be in to what you're doing. People will come and go, some will stay, whatever it is, after the event is over, what will people say about your event? Was it something worthwhile for you and them? If so, then you may have something special to keep on.

SA:What are some memorable moments at Soulgasm?

LB: A concert with Nadirah Shakoor. Having live house music sounded amazing with Nadirah's pitch perfect vocals. Also being asked to choreograph the concert was awesome and I enjoyed doing this one number running off the stage while my partner flipped into the crowd while making the audience part of the setting was a highlight of that night as well. The crowd was screaming and feeling it heavy, it was so moving.

Every time DJ FLX came to play has always been amazing! He conjures up these deep ancestral vibes that you'll see in the dance floor. He's one of my top choices for DJs worldwide!

What I cherish each month the most is working with my crew, seeing my awesome friends, the hardcore Soulgasm heads, and new faces smiling and being moved by the music.

SA: Who is the special guest for the anniversary party this year?

LB: The featured guest is "The Wizard" Brian Coxx from Soulgasm NYC. He's an amazing DJ and producer. He's one of those that I appreciate as a music lover, dancer and a house head. I would love to see all the DJs in Hawaii come to hear him and be open to learning. He will play it all in a set and can make it whatever you want; for me that's what makes a great DJ.

Also, all the residents will be playing from disco with Gnaraly, more classics to straight house with Yuji, the super soulful Kentaro and the funkdafied veteran DJs Min One and Matt Kee.

SA:Where are some of your favorite places to hang out in Hawaii?

LB: Bevy, Nextdoor, Downbeat and some cool little hole-in-the-walls.

SA: What are some key elements that make a great venue for your party?

LB: Good business with the venue, that is a must. Support from the venue helps too. Venue must also have decent sound and being open to your suggestions and/or support to their system.

SA:If money was no issue who would your dream lineup be for Soulgasm's 10-year anniversary?

LB: If money was no issue, I'd have three parties, starting with a day party then peak night into afterhours with Stevie Wonder, DJ Spinna, then Bodhisatva, Osunlade with vocals by Oveous, Nadirah Shakoor into Karizma, then finally Louie Vega and Tony Humphries til the end.

However, I will gladly take Nadirah live in concert for the 10-year! Maybe have Brian return alongside Ejoe Wilson to DJ and do a dance showcase, and DJ FLX too!

SA: Anyone else you want to mention?

LB: You, Christa for always being so giving and supportive of our scene and the people in it. Having coverage of our scene has helped so much in keeping it fresh, moving and alive!

My crew Kimberly Seko, Gnaraly, Liz Miller, Yuji, Matt Kee, Min One, Kentaro, Rayne. George and the staff at Bar 35, Timo and Christian at Bevy, Darren and Willis at Asylum, Daniel Gray at Nextdoor, Paul Shih (Lotus Soundbar), Photocyclone, all the guest artists, DJs, vocalists, dancers that have come through.

My friends who have inspired me Shane, FLX, Eddie, Josiah, Ejoe, Brian Coxx, Redness, Nadirah, Terry, Naz and all those who came and/or come to dance with me at Housing Project 360. Everyone who has ever helped Soulgasm from then til now and those who come to the event! Your love is what keeps this alive and healthy. I can't thank you enough for giving me something to look forward to and cherish in my life every month!


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii, plays music as DJ SuperCW, is a tech columnist for Metro Honolulu and co-produces the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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Championing Team Trop

April 15th, 2015

Last year I brought out ColeCo, a musical duo from Toronto, to Honolulu to play the Labor Day edition of the Bacardi Pool Party.

I wanted to do something big but also different, since people were going to be coming no matter what. I thought it would be a good time to introduce the new sound I loved, a sub-genre of deep house music called Tropical House.

KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISERThe author on the turntables at the Grey Goose Dayclub at the Modern Honolulu on Sunday. After sticking to her guns and playing the music she likes, the sub-genre of Tropical House is now crossing over into the mainstream.


The author on the turntables at the Grey Goose Dayclub at the Modern Honolulu on Sunday. After sticking to her guns and playing the music she likes, the sub-genre of Tropical House is now crossing over into the mainstream.

The guys were awesome and had their sound on lock, even abbreviating it to “Trop,” which still makes me giggle. They were making it sound so hard!

“Oh, there’s a lot of us Trop producers,” they would say in between multiple social media posts of them hanging out on the beach in aloha shirts to make their friends in freezing Canada jealous.

While I was still new to the name, I wasn’t new to the sound and the fact that I loved it. It brought me from indie-dance and nu-disco to areas of deep house I had yet to really explore. All I knew is the instruments were what pulled me in, but the beautiful environment in which I am able to play music is the most inspiring.

We are living this music.

On some of my favorite tracks you can hear a marimba, trumpet, flute or strings. Piano and saxophone are also fairly common. It’s most often a higher synthesized, even tempo in the range of 100-115 beats per minute and very easy to listen to, often with vocals. Usually the track is a remix of a popular hit.

The genre is gaining speed on the music festival circuit, as Goldroom wowed crowds at Ultra in Miami and Kygo closed out Coachella last weekend. People don’t need to have their brains gushed out to bangers anymore.

“I love it because it's different from all the mainstream EDM that are bangers or music people want to rage to,” Hawaii-based producer/DJ Jeff "Phantom" Pham, pictured below, said. “The vibes it gives off is summer, beach feels.

“Tropical house to me brings me a soothing emotion; it acts almost as a theme to paradise. Artists incorporate saxophones, trumpets, flutes, different styles of percussions not normally used in a regular EDM track.”

1544335_10203637704573978_3966796896810267376_nThis weekend, promoter/producer/DJ Matt Barberi turns his monthly Lush party on the third Friday of each month into the summer kickoff for Tropical House. As a long-time proponent of this genre, I was invited to be the special guest DJ. I am, as they say, ecstatic.

“Tropical House to me is the natural maturing of electronic music for the masses,” Barberi said. “Using synthesized melodic patterns, often well-known pop vocals and uplifting party vibes perfect for making anyone smile and feel good.”

It feels good to be championing a concept before it hits the mainstream, but it feels even better to be in the epicenter of the place these producers are inspired by when making this music.

The most explosive producer in this genre is Kygo, who is from one of the coldest corners of the world in Norway. Others, like Bakermat, ColeCo, Henry Land, Bergs and Soco are also from very very cold places.

But we are in the tropics, so it’s time to enjoy that with some inspired music.

Check out some of my favorite Tropical House mixes right now, plus my mix from the last time I was at Lush, below.


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for Pow! Wow! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.


Hickman launches Darsana Music Fest

April 8th, 2015

Those of us active in Honolulu's nightlife scene can pinpoint many what I like to call pillars — the faces we see everywhere and might not necessarily know too well (or at all) but are very familiar with and have become comfortable seeing.



Presented by eleven44, DJ Collective and EyeContact

» Where: 1144 Bethel St Honolulu, HI 96817

» When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (doors open at 7 p.m.)

» Cost: $5

» Info:,

Edward DeLeon Hickman, aka Fu Man Chu, is one of these pillars. I can remember seeing him out and about for as long as I've been in Hawaii. We’ve had various friendly exchanges; my favorite was his cameo in my birthday party video from 2010. He is either standing very still in the room with a casually stern face, obviously taking everything in very inquisitively... or he is destroying the dance floor. I have yet to really ever see an in-between of those two.

Hickman mostly grew up in New York and most recently attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Digital Media program. His company, Culture Kinetic, calls its work "inspired media." I am impressed with their design and wish more people who produced events and parties realized how important the impact of a well-designed event flyer actually is. It matters.

Of course, there are tons of key elements to making a party and making it successful, but if someone is failing at one of the first steps how is anyone going to be interested beyond that? After learning more about Hickman and his company, I can see that he gets it.

I don’t have to know him that well to know he loves to dance. Lately I’ve learned he loves much, much more. His company lists many creative services; not just videography and photography, but pretty much everything that make a party a party. Graphic design, outreach, promotions, music, dancers and all the content are now included in what he offers and can be tailored to any subject or venue.

“I first envisioned Culture Kinetic as a media company focusing on dance related projects,” Hickman said via email. “Of course, in the initial year or two that meant doing whatever kind of media work landed in our lap.

“But a month ago, while doing the memorial event for the now deceased, legendary dancer Large Marj, we began transforming Culture Kinetic into an artists collective of DJs, dancers, promoters, writers, filmmakers, photographers, live artists, performers (and) musicians.”

This weekend, Honolulu gets to see what this looks like in real life as he hosts the Darsana Music Festival on Friday and Saturday at eleven44. Together with main players and organizers Boaz Rosen (aka BoBoFet), Mark Lavender (aka Dr. Lavender) and DJ Warren Anthony they will have their first full production with eleven44 and Eye Contact. The night also unofficially kicks off their new monthly party at the nightspot.

So what can people expect from a dancer/artist/musician troupe?

“We're of the mind that partying and the act of creation are participatory in nature,” Hickman said. “While it's currently en vogue to go to an event and stare blankly at the stage, we'd like to re-shift the focus back to where the actual party takes place.

“In order to do that people have to want to BE the party, not simply witness it. Culture Kinetic, however, has an open door policy so anyone that wants to get involved, all they have to do is show up at one of our events and make themselves known (this is how most of our current roster has got involved, in fact).”

The two-day dance festival — and with these guys, there will be dancing — will feature two rooms and a huge roster of musicians, guest singers and dancers and Cocina serving up their famous al pastor street tacos.

Bravo to people working hard to make cool things happen. Now all we have to do is show up, and in this case, participate!


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for Pow! Wow! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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Protect your ears

March 4th, 2015

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2010The Devil Wears Prada performs at the old 4Play Nightclub in Aiea in 2010. The band returns to Honolulu this week.


The Devil Wears Prada performs at the old 4Play Nightclub in Aiea in 2010. The band returns to Honolulu this week.

I want to publicly apologize to those of you who viewed my Snapchat story last week while I got a sneak peek of Electron, the new audio listening room at Hawaiian Brian’s.

I was shrieking and running around, yelling how much I loved it over the incredibly loud, deep bass that owner Lee Anderson was pumping to test the sound system. I know if you had your phone's sound on, or worse yet, were wearing headphones, it might have caused a bit of discomfort to your ears.


Presented by Underworld Events

» Where: Crossroads at Hawaiian Brian's, 1680 Kapiolani Blvd.

» When: 6 p.m. Thursday

» Cost: $29.07; all ages

» Info:

Sorry, but I couldn’t help it! I was so excited. The new space is so sick! More on that later, but as a venue overall I really love Hawaiian Brian’s. The smaller Studio venue is the perfect size for a less intimidating experience and the Crossroads concert space is remaining steady as a great place to catch live music

“It’s got a small club feel to it with a nice big stage and PA system,” said local concert promoter Jack Doom from Underworld Events. “It’s not too big and not too small.”

One of the regular promoters at Brian’s, Doom has some great momentum going into 2015 with metal and punk shows on the books each month, including this week's concert by The Devil Wears Prada. Underworld Events has been a very consistent and longtime provider for the alternative genres of hardcore noise.

Going to high school with many of the pioneers of the Nardcore scene in Oxnard, Calif., Doom learned how to play guitar during his freshman year. He was deeply inspired by bands that played in their quad at lunch and seeing how their music annoyed most people had him hooked.



Jack Doom.

Ten years ago when his band, Corrupt Absolute, wasn’t getting enough shows in between tours, he and his bass player started booking shows for bands similar to their thrash metal sound.

“It’s true when you do something you enjoy, it’s like you’re not even working,” he said, adding the most difficult part of bringing out national acts to Hawaii is dealing with the finances.

“It’s difficult to learn how much a show will make and how much it costs to do,” he said. “It is very easy to lose a lot of money very quickly if you are wrong.”

So why take that risk, over and over again?

“It's very satisfying, taking something as cool as a concert from cradle to grave and knowing it wouldn't have happened if you didn't do it.” he said. “When people come up to me after a show and thank me for bringing bands out, it's a great feeling.

“Promoters are often vilified for being greedy bottom feeders that take advantage of everyone. It didn't take me long to figure out that the promoters are the ones that risk all the money, yet are the last ones in the food chain to get paid if money is made. So when someone acknowledges that, I appreciate it.”

“Most people are still surprised to see how many shows we’ve done and the quality of our shows and our venue,” said Anderson, who works tirelessly with his dad, Glen Anderson, to constantly improve the space. The new Electron room will be open for business this weekend.

Protect your ears, it’s going to be a loud spring and summer.


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for Pow! Wow! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

Sparkle Princess power

November 12th, 2014

STAR-ADVERTISER / 2014The author with DJ Jem at the Grey Goose Day Club in July, where she won over tons of clubbers with her beautiful daytime music.


The author with DJ Jem at the Grey Goose Day Club in July, where she won over tons of clubbers with her beautiful daytime music.

There really could be such a thing as a Sparkle Princess. I mean, I just made that up – but whenever I am around Sophia Kennedy, aka DJ Jem, that’s the first thing that comes to mind. She literally sparkles.


Presented by DJ Jem

» Where: Kissaten Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana Blvd.

» When: 9 p.m. Thursdays

» Cost: No cover; free validated parking

» Info: (808) 593-7090,

» Note: Weekly specials include $2 French fries, $3 draft beers and $4 sparkling wine

It comes from within – someone who is comfortable with every aspect of themselves and thus everything around them. They have learned how to see the positive in everything because they have a core that is solid and poised. They know success comes from building up, not down.

I’ve met a few people like this in my lifetime, but they are extremely rare. When I do have the pleasure of being around them, I savor every moment.

The best part about Jem is that her sparkly demeanor is easily shared through her radio show, “The Treasure Chest.” Music is art that stays with us; there are so many songs I can listen to and be immediately transported to her world of shimmering happiness and well-being. Luckily, we can all hear Jem weekly on KTUH-FM from 6 to 9 p.m. Sundays.

It’s her radio show where you can truly understand Jem's gift for curating some of the most beautiful and epic music that exists. You can also do this by following her on Soundcloud, although I have to say she doesn’t post tracks anywhere close to the frequency I need. I need her to post constantly!

KALAE PUNUADJ Jem playing an eclectic mix of tropical, dreamy disco, chillwave and sparkly-electro every Thursday at Kissaten's Waterfront Plaza location


DJ Jem plays an eclectic mix of tropical, dreamy disco, chillwave and sparkly-electro every Thursday at Kissaten Waterfront Plaza.

Last week marked the beginning of Jem’s new weekly, Champagne & Fries, at Kissaten Waterfront Plaza. The name describes a pairing that's just as natural as Jem and music. According to oenophile app Drync, French fries are even more delectable when paired with Champagne or sparkling wine:

“Sparkling wine is naturally high in acidity, that lip-smacking tartness that makes you salivate and crave another sip. This acidity cuts through the natural heft and richness that is inherent in a good batch of french fries. French fries would also not be nearly as much fun without a healthy dose of salt. This can kill many a wine, but not one which is blessed with a high level of acidity. In some ways this salt can make sparklers even more sippable. Additionally, the bubbles can similarly scrub the palate clean, and get you ready for another bite.”

With her marketing degree, Jem should be a natural at promoting parties. Pairing Champagne and fries with her music and magnetic character could be what Honolulu's nightlife needs. She has described her sound as “tropical-futuristic-dreamy-disco-house-galactic-pop-sparkly-electro,” which is exactly what it is. She played violin and piano growing up and participated in youth symphony and band camp programs, which probably explains why I am personally so taken with her. We have very similar backgrounds and definitely appreciate some of the same sounds.

“I didn’t keep up as much with my instruments in college but definitely felt a little uneasy not being able to channel my musicality in some way,” she said. (We could totally be the same person displaced in to two different bodies!) “Although I don’t practice my instruments anymore, they have played a huge role in my DJing due to the musical training I received and the ear I developed.”

She's also ecstatic over the opportunity to host the new weekly.

“It’s the perfect place to get the weekend started and hang out with your friends over drinks with great music filling the air,” she said. “Nothing gives me more joy than creating a great vibe for great people, so I’m really stoked to be able to do so on a weekly basis.”


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for Pow! Wow! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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Turning the P∆G∑

November 5th, 2014

Emily Sewell has such a beautiful presence. Seriously. Every room I walk in to that may seem dark and stony at first becomes bright and glorious the second she looks up and give me the biggest, most genuine smile.

MICHAEL KEANYMusician and artist Emily Sewell.


Musician and artist Emily Sewell.

In an otherwise seemingly intimidating tight circle of performing artists, incestuous current band and former bandmates and intellectuals, she is a standout as both a visual artist and musician. While she may be the most extraordinary woman of our time, she remains humble and kind. There is no ego. It is truly refreshing.

I met her how most of us meet — from being around everywhere all the time. I became more acquainted her in 2013 when she was selected as a POW! WOW! Hawaii artist. While there has been a noticeable effort to reduce the bro-down of male colleagues that the group of street artists could (and had) become, I found myself always being taken with any of the females invited to enter the family.

Emily was one of one solo artists working indoors (a la New York sculptor Derek Weisberg circa 2012), so I was able to watch her develop her art over the course of the festival. It was the same work that made the recent Esta and DJ Sosupersam show presented by local music collective Green Leaf Check and Los Angeles-based collective Soulection at Fresh Cafe Kaka'ako so iconic. I am a fan.

Lately she has been performing with a close group of friends she’s known for years. Their new supergroup, while having less than a year of experience performing together, sound utterly amazing.

P∆G∑ is Paul Bajcar, Amrik Shidu, Grant Naauao and Sewell. What developed after a few months of jamming from Shidu, Naauao and Sewell became instantly solidified when they asked veteran guitarist Bajcar to join.

“Right away it felt like something,” Sewell said. “There was an identity to what sound naturally came out between the four of us.

“The chemistry, the creative flow, the friendship ... it was all there and pure."

COLIN CROSSP∆G∑ performing at Art & Flea.


P∆G∑ performing at Art & Flea.

I had to hear about how good they were before finally being able to hear for myself. When I was able to see them live, it was their third time performing together. I was immediately transported to a dreamlike state. They describe their music as “Atmospheric Dream Rock” and Sewell’s vocals are indeed very dreamy. Bajacar’s trademark dream-guitar is also pleasantly haunting and the group has a brilliant chemistry when performing live.

Last week they wowed a crowd at the Honolulu Museum of Art's Doris Duke Theatre with a very special Bjork tribute before “Bjork: Biophilia” screened.

Their bond is also evident by the significance of their name.

“We consider ourselves story tellers,” said Sewell. “Our songs, our way of writing, it's all conceptual. P∆G∑ represents not only the four individuals who collectively work together to write the story from start to end, from the first note to last, but it represents the idea of being in a state of fantasy or dreamscape and being taken away, like reading a book from page to page.”

The misconception people have is that Sewell and her crew are unapproachable, which is mostly misunderstood. They just all know each other very, very well. They practice together and perform together. They play for each other, drink together, BBQ together.

It’s like when any of us crash a “Hawaii Five-0” party; they know who the day players are.

SHIRLEY LAMAll 4 members of P∆G∑ performing at one of their regular Chinatown haunts: Mercury Bar.


All four members of P∆G∑ on stage at Mercury Bar.

“The most beautiful, special, and addicting thing (about this live music scene) is the bond,” Sewell said. “The bond to the people who play and go to the shows, the bond to the music, the performers, the spaces, the nights, the love and passion, the constant and the change.

“It's what hooks so many of us here. It's what waters our appreciation, interest, and support. We all absolutely love the friendships and community. In a very symbolic and actual way, Hawaii is a place of waves coming in and going out.”

While the community remains tight, it is by no means small. There are regular shows and with every goodbye there are a few more hellos or regroups. Poncho, ALT/AIR, The No No Spots, Fransic Knife, Linus, Beaman, TV Mircowave, The Bougies, Drugless Macarthur, Alive and Swell, Distant, TTFN, Animal Mother, Early Grey, The Horror Show, Prie and the Prolific Unknowns are all favorites of mine, to name a few.

With no upcoming shows currently planned, I still expect to see P∆G∑ popping up more around town, and hopefully on stage opening for major acts. Headliners and their management approve opening acts through their online music these days, which has affected the amount of local music featured at big shows, but hopefully as more and more awareness is drawn to this tight-knit community we can see that change. I'm ready for it.


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for Pow! Wow! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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It's all about sole

October 22nd, 2014

WAYNE AGSALDAWayne (on right) has serious business shoe game


Wayne (on right) has serious business shoe game


Special to the Star-Advertiser

I noticed not one but two of the younger male sales reps at work wearing a specific type of shoe to work that really stood out. It was a nice brown leather with a white sport sole I later learned was the Cole Haan LunarGrand business collection.

“They’re hipster, that’s why” my rep told me. “And the Nike sole makes them super comfy.”

I saw them on Hypebeast but they got ripped to shreds in the comments section.

“If you’re in the ‘business’ of looking like a tool and have never heard of any other shoemaker besides Cole Haan, then sure,” someone posted.

“Are these Sketchers Shape-ups?” another user posted.

I wasn’t hearing it though. Everyone I saw wearing these shoes looked damn stylie. It’s like when you go to a work function and you spot someone sporting a Roberta Oaks shirt. It’s the male fashion anthem of the late 20s-early 30s generation of cool. I’m digging it.

The deepest I get into shoe or sneaker culture is the Nike SB Classics or maybe a dunk if I’m in to the colorway, but I thoroughly enjoy seeing men take so much pride in their gear. These leather shoes are fantastic.

Upscale menswear brand Publish Brand is back in Hawaii this week and they are bringing a hailstorm of stylies and music industry greats that will blow our city away on Sunday. For free.

They have teamed up with Vans to bring the 2014 all-weather fall Brenton Boot. While we may not be so concerned with the fall weather, it’s a shoe that can brave any temperature or atmospheric condition, which after this past weekend, we all very well know, is needed. Publish Brand still considers itself fairly small even though it's been very successful with its classic styling that is meant to last a lifetime. They have had various collaborations including Honolulu’s Kicks HI and New York’s Reed Space. Their clothing is pricey but perfectly tailored, timeless and elegant. They have a lot of pride in this boot and have spared no expense to do a huge release party.

“This is a sensitive one.” They posted on their Instagram last week. “We hold the project with Vans super close to home, as growing up in Southern California, we have worn Vans our whole lives. We didn’t know that one day we would land a project with Vans.”

“This just breaks all barriers and walls for those who do not believe. Love and believe in what you do and one day it will happen.”

COURTESY PUBLISH BRANDSalva's remix of Kanye West's "Mercy" with RL Grime is played out more than the original in the nightclubs


Salva's remix of Kanye West's "Mercy" with RL Grime is played out more than the original in the nightclubs

Sunday’s release party will feature top talent from both New York and Los Angeles.

Salva is a record producer, engineer, songwriter and club DJ who has created crazy club masterpieces that are usually preferred over the original by club DJs. He is a very influential artist in the music world and one who has been working in the industry since he was 18. His unique method for combining multiple genres of music to create club bangers that are truly his own is celebrated by many.

Dam Funk is still blowing my mind from his Boiler Room set last year at the Treasure Island Music Festival after-party but he’s been regularly killing dance floors with his funky electronic and hip-hop sets, pulling out all of the classics and making us remember so many tracks we love from way back when.

Just Blaze is huge; he could be one of the greatest hip-hop producers of our time. His songwriting credits include everyone. His DJ sets are known to literally change people’s lives. At least that’s what they were saying after his appearance at SXSW this year.

COURTESY PUBLISH BRANDJustin Smith, better known as Just Blaze, has produced songs for an A-List of hip-hop's top talent including Eminem, Jay-Z, Cam'ron, Rick Ross, Kanye and many more


Justin Smith, better known as Just Blaze, has produced songs for an A-List of hip-hop's top talent including Eminem, Jay-Z, Cam'ron, Rick Ross, Kanye and many more

Kicks HI’s own DJ Delve gets to open for all of this. I would be nervous for him among these heavyweights but I remember him mentioning that the management for a recent headliner he opened for told him to dumb it down mid-set. If there’s anyone who can hold their own for an incredible show like this it’s him.

Vans Otw X Publish Breton Boot In-store Launch W/ Dam-funk

Presented by Vans OTW x Publish Brand

» Where: Kicks Hawaii 1530 Makaloa St. Honolulu HI 96814

» When: 1-3pm Saturday, Oct. 25

» Cost: Free

» Info: PHONE ORDERS ACCEPTED: 808.941.9191

» Info:After Party Sunday, Oct. 26, at The Republik 18+ Free with RSVP


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for Pow! Wow! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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