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Tue03192019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Kosha Dillz is one of the hardest-working people in hip-hop. He spent the summer touring the country on the final Warped Tour, and he’s heading out on tour again in the fall.

He’ll be performing at The Hood Bar and Pizza this Friday, Sept. 28, at a show presented by the Coachella Valley Independent.

Despite the name Kosha Dillz, the fact he’s performed with Matisyahu, and some Jewish references in his music, he is not is a religion-focused rapper. Instead, most of his music is quirky, such as his song “What I Do All Day.”

“I’m the least-religious person ever,” Kosha Dillz said during a recent phone interview. “The whole idea behind Kosha Dillz is more of a sexual reference. I guess there is some Jewish representation in it. It was more of being proud of my heritage, and then I sort of lost that and changed it for a few years—when I started rapping in battle raps, and I went by KD Flow.

“When I had gotten clean and sober and gotten out of jail for the last time, I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to release my music as Kosha Dillz.’ There’s no religious aspect to it, but religious people just started reaching out to me. It has nothing to do with anything biblical or anything like that. There’s not a ton of Jewish people coming to my shows; it’s more non-Jewish people.”

Kosha Dillz said that while he felt out of place at times on the Vans Warped Tour—he participated both in 2015 and this year—he did connect with audiences.

“The final Warped Tour was great, because it was the last time it was ever going to happen. There was a sense of urgency to be part of something legendary,” he said. “The goal of Warped Tour wasn’t to get a gazillion fans, but to find the people who were really right for me. That kind of situation is always interesting, because you never know who you’re going to meet. A lot of people went for the nostalgia factor. To be part of that, people want to keep that alive—and you might meet people who are going to follow you in the years to come.”

When Kosha Dillz plays a show, he’s everywhere. He’s promoting himself and casually chatting with audiences; this was the case when I saw him multiple times throughout the day at the Warped Tour in Pomona in 2015, and again when I saw him at the campgrounds at Coachella in 2016 and 2017. He’s also known for pop-up live performances at large events, one of which was a Radiohead concert in Israel in 2017.

“There’s a famous video of the world’s most famous violinist playing in a New York subway, and people just walk by and brush him off without realizing who he is. That’s sort of the same concept of what I do out there. It’s mass attention,” he said. “You’re going to a show, and you’re going to see people you haven’t seen. When I did that Radiohead show in Israel, it was a very discussed show, because it was the second-longest show they ever played, and because of Roger Waters trying to protest them (for not boycotting Israel due to the treatment of Palestinians). Then I’ve done stuff like that outside of the Grammy Awards, and I landed a national commercial for Chevrolet. I met people at that Israel show who have seen me perform at other festivals who were excited to see me again.”

Kosha Dillz has been vocally opposed to Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters’ involvement in the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel. Kosha Dillz said what Roger Waters promotes during live shows is anti-Semitic.

“If you put Roger Waters on paper, he’s a massive musician, but he displays imagery that is anti-Semitic and is old folklore of classic anti-Semitism with pigs and Jewish stars. … It’s modern anti-Semitism under the guise of anti-Israel,” he said. “For the basic person who just comes across that, they don’t know how deep it goes. I think it’s unfortunate. … What Roger Waters does is poison minds for the first 30 seconds, and people don’t really care much about it. He’s speaking on such a grand level: ‘It’s Roger Waters, so he must be right!’ Unless you’re invested a bit more, you’re not going to understand what the Middle East peace conflict is and how long it’s been going on for. It’s what Roger Waters does: He’s really anti-Israel and anti-Jew, but it’s under a different guise.”

Kosha Dillz is currently touring with Devmo, who is also performing at The Hood Bar and Pizza.

“Devmo is an amazing artist, and she’s a really prolific rapper,” he said. “She’s really likable, and as a human being, I like her. None of us are getting rich out here yet, so I figured I’d bring her out on her first tour. I remember when I went on my first tour with Matisyahu, and it was eight shows. It was an opportunity for us to bring someone, and she has a lot to contribute. If she becomes massive, we can say it started here, and I really think she’s capable of it. I think she deserves it.”

Kosha Dillz is somewhat familiar with the local music scene, he said.

“I’m honestly looking forward to meeting all of your people. … Just in general, it’s exciting to go play in the desert,” he said. “I think people only go out there for Coachella, but I think there’s a great music scene there. I know the Yip Yops, and I met Alf Alpha out there. I played in Palm Springs back in 2007, and I met these people there who were from San Antonio. Whenever I’d come back for Coachella, I’d stay at one of the guy’s houses with his grandma in Palm Desert. This is a town we could do good in, and I think the quality of the show we’re going to bring, people will be blown away by it. Towns like Palm Desert and other small towns like Mobile, Alabama—it’s exciting to go to these places.

Kosha Dillz will perform with Off Kilter, The Bermuda and Devmo at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on the show, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Published in Previews

The Warped Tour started back in 1995 and has been a summer fixture since then, shaping music tastes and exposing fans to different genres of music and counterculture.

However, all good things must come to an end: On June 21, the Warped Tour began what is being billed as its final “full cross-country” run, in Pomona. With the Hootenanny defunct and FYF cancelled for 2018, the Warped Tour is a now almost-unheard-of festival that does not cost hundreds of dollars: For $45, you could gain admission. The Warped Tour was the Coachella for the common Joe or Jane.

One of the unique aspects of the Warped Tour is the schedule changes during each festival stop. I originally planned to see Throw the Goat, but when I messaged the lead guitarist the day before, Puke told me he did not know when the band would take the stage until they checked in; unfortunately, they were slotted for an 11 a.m. set, which made it impossible for me to get there to see them perform. I was able to catch them at their merch table after their show. In order to accommodate the flexible schedule, Warped Tour has an inflatable schedule board that fans photograph so they know the actual set times, or you can opt to pay $2 to get a paper schedule from a concession stand.

Fun fact: Ernie Ball, a leading manufacturer of musical strings and accessories, has sponsored the Warped Tour’s Battle of the Bands for more than 20 years—and has manufacturing facilities in Coachella.

The Pomona show featured veteran acts like Reel Big Fish, Shiragirl and The Used. Well-liked bands like Black Veil Brides, 3OH!3 and Tonight Alive pleased the younger fans in attendance.

I wandered over to the Mutant White Lightning stage to catch Nekrogoblikon, touring in support of new record Welcome to Bonkers. But the band’s 2:10 p.m. start time was delayed by technical difficulties, drastically cutting the goblin-loving metal band’s set—and foreshadowing many delays to band start times throughout the day.

The Shiragirl Stage was back again, featuring female artists. Shira Yevin, aka Shiragirl, was a treat, along with Turbulent Hearts, an L.A.-based band.

Doll Skin, an all-female band from Phoenix, showed why the Warped Tour is a favorite place to be for an up-and-coming band. The song “Family of Strangers” sped things up and got the crowd to mosh, pumped up with pop punk. When the band announced it was going to sing about lesbians, it got a big cheer from the crowd. Awesome song, but I missed the title.

Reel Big Fish offered the band’s usual over-the-top fun, starting the set with a cover of “Take on Me” by A-ha. Lead singer Aaron Barrett had to remind us that this would be the last one: “I am never going to go to another Warped Tour again.”

Tonight Alive followed and received an enthusiastic response for song “Crack My Heart”—but there was an apparent medical emergency in the middle of the crowd. Singer Jenna McDougall asked for healing hands and prayers, cutting the set short.

The Journeys stages right and left alternated bands—so if one band was delayed on the right, a delay occurred for the follow-up band on the left, and so on. 3OH!3 changed the tone at the Journeys Left Food stage with fun songs “My First Kiss” and “Starstrukk.” You can never go wrong with songs about kissing and Daisy Dukes.

The Maine, all dressed in red, was nostalgic, reminding everyone that this was the last Warped Tour stop in Pomona, and reaching back to charm the crowd with a cover of Blur’s “Woo Hoo.” Testing the musical knowledge of the crowd, lead singer John O’Callaghan asked, “How the heck are you? We are the Foo Fighters from Phoenix, Arizona. We are an old, band and this is an old song,” introducing “Am I Pretty?”

Waterparks was identified on the stage backdrop as “god’s favorite boy band.” I never knew The Almighty got involved in picking favorites, and God apparently had other plans, sending technical delays that resulted in a 23-minute delay and turning the set into an acoustic-only affair. Vocalist Awsten Knight went onstage with a guitar and played a few songs, including “We Need To Talk,” “Lucky People,” and “21 Questions.”

The Used headlined the Journeys Left Foot stage. The band was wearing tie-dye, and Bert McCracken was surrounded by smoke as he entered and started their set with “Take It Away.” The audience reacted positively to the short set, which also included “The Bird and the Worm” and “Listening.”

Echosmith killed it with “Cool Kids” from Talking Dreams—perhaps an anthem of the Warped Tour generation: “I wish that I could be like the cool kids, ’cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in. I wish that I could be like the cool kids, like the cool kids.”

Black Veil Brides closed out the Journeys Left Foot stage with a set including “Rebel Love Song.”

Only time will tell if the Warped Tour organizers change their minds and decide not leave this iconic festival behind. Rumors are floating already that a 25-year tour is planned … but who knows?

Published in Reviews

Numerous bands have joined the Vans Warped Tour over the years in the hopes of getting a career boost.

One of those up-and-coming bands that has benefited from the tour is Real Friends, out of Tinley Park, Ill. The group will again be a part of the Warped Tour when the final national tour kicks off at the Pomona Fairplex on Thursday, June 21.

Before signing with Fearless Records and putting out debut album Maybe This Is Place Is the Same and We’re Just Changing in 2014, Real Friends had already built a fan base across the country. The band will be releasing its third album in the near future, and has already released a new single, “From the Outside.”

During a recent phone interview with bassist Kyle Fasel, he explained how Real Friends appealed to the masses before receiving label support.

“It was really all doing it independently,” Fasel said. “We didn’t have any record-label backing or anything, and we didn’t even really have any management during that time. It was just us as a band of five guys. We did our best to get the word out there. The best tool was the internet. I definitely look to the internet as the biggest tool of our success. We did some touring, and that does help, but in 2013 and even today, the internet, even among American bands—it’s such a prevalent tool.”

When labels began courting Real Friends, the band members weren’t sure what to do.

“We were definitely skeptical about signing to a label, because we were all able to quit our day jobs to do this band full-time without a label,” Fasel said. “We were looking at it as, ‘Why would we need one?’ We were definitely hesitant with Fearless and the other labels who had reached out. At the time, we were asking labels, ‘What can you do for us? We’re still growing.’

“There are questions in my head like, ‘What if we never signed? Would we still be where we are?’ I’ll probably never know the answer. But if we didn’t sign, I’d be sitting here, asking, ‘What if we did sign?’ I think that it definitely helped us, and we noticed after releasing our first album that it had reached so many people. I think retail was still sort of relevant back then. Best Buy isn’t going to even have CDs next year, but in 2014, it was still relevant, and it was crazy to see our CDs, not just in independent stores, but in places like Best Buy. It was readily available to a lot of people, and it helped us grow. We noticed a change after recording that album.”

In 2016, Real Friends released sophomore album The Home Inside My Head. It may not be the band’s best work, Fasel said.

“We wrote a lot of it while we were on tour. That was actually very stressful to write a record on the road. I feel like we were pressed for time, and I would never do that again,” Fasel said. “I don’t think any of us are really totally satisfied with the final product of that record. … We’ve been pretty open about The Home Inside My Head being a big lesson learned. It was actually the first record we did where we were properly produced as a band, because all of our EPs and full-lengths were just with an engineer. I think we leaned on that aspect too much. We thought we could go in with a producer and change them around … and it really wasn’t the case. That’s not to fault Steve Evetts, the producer, or discredit them, because they changed the songs around, but we just leaned on them too much. I don’t think it’s a bad record, but it’s not that memorable. I don’t think anyone said, ‘Wow, this is horrible,’ but I think they said, ‘I don’t want to keep listening to this over and over.’ That’s the reality of it to us.”

The new single, “From the Outside,” tackles one of the hazards of social media.

“I think it’s a topic everyone can relate to, especially in today’s age of social media,” Fasel said. “It really reflects a generation posting all these pictures where everything is fine, and life is perfect, but in reality, we all know everyone has their problems in life. At least to me, I connect the song to that. It is just a simple aspect of: ‘You think I’m OK, but I’m not.’”

Fasel said the end of the Warped Tour presents a sad reality.

“It’s the end of an era, which is really unfortunate. But I see it as everything has to change,” he said. “I think of it as the last tour of its kind, really—a traveling tour with that many dates and that many bands. It is sad, but it has to adapt to the times. They’re saying it’s the last full United States-based Warped Tour, so I’m assuming they’ll do something like a festival-based show like Riot Fest or Lollapalooza. It’s sad, but I’m excited to see where they go with it in the future.”

The Warped Tour has definitely helped out Real Friends.

“We released our first album while on the Warped Tour in 2014,” Fasel said. “I feel like our band took a couple of steps up as far as attendance draws at shows and merchandise sales, and I account a lot of that to the Warped Tour. It’s really the situation where all the kids have heard of these bands, but never listened to them, and this is going to be where they break the ice and listen to them for the first time. It’s the period at the end of the sentence for these kids in this music scene.”

Real Friends will perform as part of the Vans Warped Tour; doors open at 11 a.m., Thursday, June 21, at the Pomona Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., in Pomona. Tickets are $45 to $51. For more information, visit www.vanswarpedtour.com.

Published in Previews

The 2017 Warped Tour came to a close at the Pomona Fairplex, 80 miles west of Palm Springs, on Sunday, Aug. 6.

A cloud hung over much of the summer tour after The Dickies made some jokes that angered feminist punk band War on Women during a stop in Denver, dividing many fans over questions of free speech and political correctness. On the plus side, tour organizers included many of the old-school punk bands who had played the Warped Tour in the 1990s.

While entering the tour grounds on Sunday, we encountered a significant problem. If there’s one item that is a MUST-HAVE at a festival—an item that every festival I know of allows and even encourages—it’s sunblock. Well, when I walked up to security, a woman working the festival screeched: “NO SUNBLOCK! TAKE IT BACK TO YOUR CAR OR THROW IT AWAY!” I noticed a large trash barrel full of sunblock, into which I threw mine. Upon entering the festival, I found it hard to find sunblock for sale, and I was afraid what the price would be. Luckily, I found a booth selling small bottles of SPF 30 for $2 … but I’d already noticed by 2 p.m. that there were a lot of people getting sunburns. I was asked at one point if I could spare any sunblock for a young kid. What a terrible idea by festival managers.

As for the music: The Hard Rock stage featured performances by Sick of It All, TSOL, Municipal Waste, Adolescents and Strung Out. Jack Grisham, of TSOL—wearing a pink suit that is probably up for auction on the TSOL site by now, with proceeds going to charity—wasn’t shy about giving the finger or offering an amusing anecdote. Tony Reflex of Adolescents look sunburned to a crisp and ready to go home after playing the entire tour, pointing to the mountains in the background and saying, “I live in those mountains!”

At the Skullcandy stage, feminist punk band War on Women performed. Frontwoman Shawna Potter had a tank top on that stated, “I’m a fucking feminist,” and declared that if any woman felt uncomfortable at the Warped Tour, War on Women and their friends at the Safer Scenes were there and “had their back.” She then went on a rant about reproductive rights before singing a song with a chorus during which she screamed “GIVE ME THE PILL! GIVE ME THE PILL!” The song included lines about abortion and rape, and someone pretended to rip a baby out of her stomach. As a gay man in my late 30s who understands and respects the ideals of feminism, I feel that War on Women should write a song: “We Give Feminism a Bad Name.”

For attendees who love everything metal, the two Monster stages, which took up one whole side of the festival, offered delights all day long. One of the highlights of the afternoon was Hatebreed, who praised Sick of It All, TSOL and Adolescents for kicking the door down for bands like them. Hatebreed was returning to the Warped Tour for the first time since 1998.

At the opposite end of the festival, the two Journey stages featured performances in the afternoon by pop-punk band Goldfinger, rap metal band Attila and stoner-rock band CKY.

As the sun went down, it became time for the headliners, and the notorious costumed metal band GWAR took to one of the Monster stages. After the death of Cory Smoot (Flattus Maximus) in 2011 and frontman Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus) in 2014, GWAR is continuing on with new frontman Blothar (Michael Bishop, who is also a history professor and software engineer; he was the original bass player, Beefcake the Mighty). As soon as GWAR came onstage, the band began spraying blood all over the crowd through hoses … and through all six of the penises on Blothar’s costume. At one point in between songs, Blothar said, “Hey baby, you’re pretty cute!” to one of the female attendees in front of the stage. When she acknowledged him, he said, “No, I wasn’t talking to you!” and then he said, “Yeah, you, hi!”

With all the controversy that surrounded the Dickies, one has to wonder how GWAR was given a free pass. GWAR was pretty misogynistic—but both the men and women who caught the band’s set seemed to be having a hilarious good time.