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STS9 Goes Hard at Wave Spell Festival

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STS9 Live Wave Spell

Sound Tribe Sector 9, the electronic-jam band, released the soundboard recordings of the third of three “Wave Spell” sets from their festival of the same name on Sunday.  The group, one of the top touring acts in the country, held their first ever Wave Spell Live festival in the small northern California town of Belden last weekend (Aug. 16-19) which featured nine sets by the band over four nights, including three completely organic, full on improvisational sets of music, dubbed “Wave Spell” sets.

“This feels like a [success]”, said Zach Velmer, drummer of STS9, to the crowd toward the end of their final performance of the weekend.  The event was billed as an intimate festival, with only 1,200 tickets available.  But by the week leading up to the event, secondary market tickets were selling for significantly less than face value as desperate folks who could not make it for one reason or another tried to recoup what they could.  There were rumors that the band and the people putting the festival on, Euphonic Conceptions and Cervantes Present, were going to lose money as well as speculation that this might be the last such event the band would attempt due to poor attendance.

By the end of the weekend, however, the event felt very much like a success.  One source close to the group reported that as of the beginning of the festival, the promoters and hosts of the event had broken even financially, although it doesn’t appear as if profit was a prevailing goal in this endeavor.  The final attendance at the event was 1,200 people.

The weekend kicked off with the first of three “Wave Spell” sets, in which STS9 engaged in a “Musical conversation”, playing an all out improvised piece of music.  Although a bit timid at first, the performance quickly picked up speed and provided a very nice greeting to the audience and a fantastic introduction to what would turn out to be an event filled with exceptional music and incredible art.  Along with the “Wave Spell” sets, STS9 played six standard sets of original songs, digging deep into their expansive catalog and providing the most avid fans with performances that can easily be described as special.

Standouts from the headlining performances included a very funky first set on Friday night.  The fan favorite “Rent” rumbled through the tiny mountain town as the crowd smiled from ear to ear and kicked up dust from the all-encompassing dance floor. Friday night concluded with the second “Wave Spell” set, in which STS9 was joined by electronic music producer, Richard Devine.  Devine provided a wealth of glitchy percussion sounds, making for a truly unique improv set.

Night three did not boast a “Wave Spell” set, but did not disappoint.  Opening with the classic STS9 jam, “The Rabble”, moving through “Call Jam”, “Vibyl”, and eventually back into “The Rabble”, the crowd was elated.  Topping off this stellar performance, the group ended the night with the sonic party from their beloved album, Artifact, “Tokyo”.

The final night of the festival began with the final “Wave Spell” set of the weekend.  Picking up steam throughout the weekend, this final improv set was both soothing and euphoric, and bursting with energy at the same time.  As a collection, these one of a kind, completely unique performances were truly something extra special to experience. The night moved on with two final performances of original music by STS9.  The set included the groups unique “Modular Jam”, in which they use analog modular synthesizers to create unique sounds to jam with on stage.  Adding to the festivities, the band was joined at the end of their second set by Dominic Lalli of the electronic funk duo, Big Gigantic, on saxophone for the song “Grow”.

The last performance of the festival from the hosting act was a fitting end to a captivating event.  Punctuated by crowd favorites, “F. Word” and “Hubble”, the real musical gem of the festival from STS9 came in the form of the rarely played “Breathe In”.  Played as the first encore of the last night, it was the second to last song played by the group in Belden.  The haunting, melodic piano in “Breathe In”, uplifting and euphoric, provided a refreshing auditory deep breath, before Dominic Lalli came back out to join them for their final tune of the weekend, “986 Foot Tall Trees” (Lalli can be heard during parts of “Breathe In”, backstage warming up, as his microphone must have been left on accidentally.  Appropriately enough, he seemed to be playing along to the STS9 song, and it sounded pretty good).

Along with the stellar performances by STS9, the festival included performances by several other electronic acts and artists.  Genre pioneers, Edit and Ooah from The Glitch Mob, did back to back late night sets on Friday night.  Zach Velmer, drummer, and David Phipps, keyboard player for STS9 each did solo sets.  Velmer was joined on stage by his four-year-old daughter, singing lead vocals on his opening tune.  Other standout performances included Baad Quartet.  Comprised of Alana Rocklin, bass player for STS9, Dominic Lalli from Big Gigantic, Adam Deitch of Lettuce, and Borahm Lee from Pretty Lights, Baad Quartet played a full set of Jazz covers from Herbie Hancock and the like, making for possibly the most unique performance of the festival.  Also making waves at the event was the electro-funk trio, Sunsquabi.  Playing multiple sets over the four days, Sunsquabi was one of the acts you could hear being raved about all weekend.

Wave Spell Live not only provided a weekend of exceptional music, but beautiful visual art as well.  Couches by the river faced canvases, both already painted and still being worked on. Attendees brought enormous, oversized floatation devices, gigantic unicorns and giraffes floated in a cluster of colorful water toys on the beautiful Feather River.  Fans could lay out in the sun all day, floating, or on the beach, where The Beach Stage hosted music all day until the main events of the evening.

By Monday, on the way out, the event was clearly successful.  The small crowd provided for an extremely pleasant experience with minimal drama and minimal waste.  Considering the size of the event, an extraordinarily small amount of cigarette butts could be found on the ground, nothing was destroyed or trashed, and everybody seemed to get along well and enjoy each others company.  Some logistics could have been better planned.  The shuttle to and from the parking lot ten miles away where everyone had parked their cars was not extremely convenient.  The posters for the event, expected to be in the merch bags given to VIP guests were not ready on time and are instead going to be mailed to the folks who were expecting them.  But a few missteps aside, the event concluded peacefully with a majority of the attendees leaving with cherished memories.

This event was planned, announced, and thrown on short notice (Band insiders have said that the whole idea of Wave Spell Live was conceived, confirmed and announced all in Las Vegas during the bands three night run early this past May at The Brooklyn Bowl).  The event was scheduled the same weekend as another festival in upstate New York, hosted by another group popular in many of the same communities as STS9, often drawing bigger crowds (This event was canceled at the last minute, however fans of both groups had a hard decision to make).  But Wave Spell Live went off without a hitch, successful by the hosts’ own standards, and provided a memorable experience for many fans who took time off of work, bought tickets, and flew in from around the country.  Hopefully the “success” of Wave Spell Live 2018 will inspire another such event next summer and for years to come.  As this writer sees it, it can only get better.

Trevor Abbe is the Z6 Mag music festival Editor. Trevor has professional experience in interviewing bands and artists all around the world.

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Arts & Entertainment

Gossip Girl Is Making A Comeback Series

Manhattan’s teenage elites better watch their backs, Gossip Girl is officially announced to make a return on HBO’s upcoming streaming service.

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Photo: Cecilia Saia | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Hey Upper East Siders, Gossip Girl is officially back. The freakishly omnipresent blogger is making a comeback in 2020 to watch over the lives of Manhattans’ elites.

WarnerMedia has sent to order the series for ten new hour-long episodes from the popular tv show for its upcoming streaming service, HBO Max.

The original Gossip Girl creators — the team of Joshua Safran, Stephanie Savage, and Josh Schwartz — are all returning to work on the new episodes that will loom over the lives of New York City’s teenage elites. There are also reports speculating a new Gossip Girl.

“It’s something we’ve been talking about — Josh, Stephanie and I — for a little bit, just in terms of, ‘Is this something we want to explore?’ We’re all so in love with the original and had such an incredible time working on it, and it’s such a big part of our lives,” Safran told THR

“Then the stars aligned and we had availability to jump, and Warners, obviously, it’s something they’re very passionate about. It seemed like the best time and also the best way to do it.”

As of the moment, there aren’t any reports if any of the formerly loved cast (Serena, Dan, Blair, Chuck, and Nate) would also be making a comeback in the upcoming Gossip Girl series. But one thing’s for sure: it will be a sequel to the original and will take on new characters with new drama all the while living the “elite problems” background.

The new series logline

“Eight years after the original website went dark, a new generation of New York private school teens are introduced to the social surveillance of Gossip Girl. The prestige series will address just how much social media — and the landscape of New York itself — has changed in the intervening years.”

If any of you Gossip Girl fans could remember, social media was pretty much in its earlier phase during the series. It is quite interesting that the new series will be focusing on how social media will shape the 2020 version, given that it is the gut of the entire series. According to Zoe Fox of Mashable, the show popularized social media networks and mobile communication, becoming “a pioneer in its use of mobile.”

“It’s just a new look at this particular society in New York, the idea being that society changes constantly,” Safran said. “So how has this world changed, how has social media and its effect changed? All of those things allow us to look at the world 12 years on as opposed to just redoing the story. None of us are interested in just redoing a story.”

Initially, Gossip Girl was a CW series. Its president, Mark Pedowitz, claimed at the Television Critics Association that talks were happening for potential reboot months ago but only if the trio — Safran, Savage, and Schwartz — signed on. And luckily, they did.

Gossip Girl originally aired for six seasons from 2007 to 2012 with 121 dramatic episodes that were based on the YA novel series by Cecily von Ziegesar. Quite significantly, the 5-year series launched the careers of Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley, Chace Crawford, Ed Westwick, and Taylor Momsen.

At the moment, none of the original cast is announced to be on board, but based on previous interviews, super fans can at least hold out hope.

On July, Crawford told that he’s not opposing the idea. “I don’t know what it would look like with us being in our 30s now, but I always say, because it was such a big part of my life, I’m open to anything,” he told Digital Spy. “It would have to be really right, and really specific, and with TV and the golden age of the TV streaming service, maybe an eight-episode season.”

In May, Meester said that no one has ever seriously asked her to return to the iconic role of Blair Waldorf. “No one’s ever talked to me about it except for in interviews, and I always say the same: I never say never, so I don’t know. No one’s sent me that information,” she told E! News at the time. 

As for a looming new Gossip Girl, initially voiced by Kristen Bell, we’ll also have to find out. As she says in the show: “And who am I? That’s one secret I’ll never tell! You know you love me… XOXO, Gossip Girl.”

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Taika Waititi Confirmed To Direct Thor 4

Thor 4 is a go now that Taika Waititi is reported to take the helm as director again.

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Thor 4 | Source: ABS-CBN News

After the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s glorious end to Phase 3 with Avengers: Infinity War, details have been meek regarding the future of our beloved original Avengers cast. Fortunately, it is recently confirmed that Taika Waititi will be directing and writing the upcoming Thor 4 movie.

For quite a while, since Infinity War, the only thing sure about the original avengers was solely about the upcoming Black Widow movie that is set to be Natasha Romanoff’s (played by Scarlett Johansson) origin story. Additionally, the other sequels continuing are no-brainers like Black Panther 2, Doctor Strange 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy 3.

A fourth standalone Thor film was unheard of since MCU has never done it before with Robert Downey Jr.’s and Chris Evans’ portrayals of their MCU characters with only three standalone films each. Thor 4 will mark the first time any single character has gone that far. Now, with Waititi confirmed to return to the Thor franchise, fans can start looking forward to seeing Thor back in the big screen.

Significantly, Waititi was the director behind 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, which was a blockbuster hit and saw great success by earning a whopping $854 million worldwide while critics’ raves put the movie at 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The move also rejuvenated what had been a rare declining franchise performer for Marvel.

At the time, the two middling outings for the God of Thunder in Kenneth Branagh’s Thor and Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World did not see the same high earnings as other avengers stand-alone films such as Iron Man and Captain America. It was only during Waititi’s take over of the franchise had it delivered the most well-received installment in Thor‘s solo series. 

Furthermore, Waititi was involved more than directing Thor: Ragnarok and even played a character called Korg, who was Thor‘s companion while being imprisoned in the garbage planet of Sakaar. Fans well-received Korg with his dumb wit and overall humorous character.

It would be a no-brainer to bring Waititi back in the Thor franchise and see Korg again in Thor 4. In other news, the golden hero of Asgaard, Thor, is presumably set to return to the franchise despite him saying in the past that he is done playing the character with the sole exception when there’s “another great script that comes along.”

How the untitled Thor 4 will pan out is still very much in the dark along with most of the movies slated in the MCU’s Phase 4. Particularly, the last time we saw Thor was in Avengers: Endgame, helping his fellow original members of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes defeat Thanos once and for all. The film ended with Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy setting off on a quest to find Gamora, indicating Hemsworth’s character may appear in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 

Based on how Spider-Man: Far From Home closed the book on Phase 3, we can expect that Thor 4 will pick up after the events of Endgame. According to Screen Rant, “Thor 4 may be ready to hit theaters by 2021, or 2022 at the latest unless Marvel prioritizes other movies first – which is a possibility. It’s also unclear whether Thor 4 would take place before or after Guardians 3, depending on how soon after the events of Endgame that movie picks up.”

Fans, for now, will have to wait until the weekend during Marvel Studios’ 90-minute panel at the San Diego Comic Convention this weekend.

On the other hand, The Holywood Reporter said that with Waititi’s upcoming involvement in the Thor 4 movie, his work with Warner Brother’s long in development movie, Akira, will have to be pushed back.

Akira is Warner Brother’s supposed to be an adaptation from the Japanese Manga, which Waititi was also set to direct. It was penciled for a May 21, 2021 release with Waititi already on a worldwide search for its casting but got eventually delayed due to script-writing difficulties.

Now that Waititi’s two projects are brushing too close with another in shooting dates, the director is forced to take priority and Thor 4 will take Waititi’s number 1 spot.

Warners’ next step for Akira is unclear. Several sources have said that Warners is keen on keeping Waititi involved for the long-term and hopes to see him pick up Akira after Thor 4, THR says.

For 2019, we can expect Fox Searchlight’s Jojo Rabbit, from the direction of Waititi, which is a satire about a young boy whose mother houses a Jewish girl to hide her from Nazis. Waititi plays the boy’s imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler and is set to release on Oct. 18.

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Disney’s The Little Mermaid: Musical-Focused With Harry Styles As Prince Eric

Harry Styles in tandem with Halle Bailey is a musical waiting to happen on the big screen

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Disney's The Little Mermaid: Musical-Focused With Harry Styles As Prince Eric | Z6Mag

Harry Styles is in early talks of playing the iconic Prince Eric role in the upcoming Disney live-action remake of the 1989 original classic, The Little Mermaid. And people over Twitter could not contain their excitement even though none of this is final as of the moment. Seemingly, Disney is taking on a more musical-centric route for the movie.

Styles is a former member of the world-renowned band One Direction who disbanded a couple of years back to their fans’ dismay; but all five members of which struck out to have solo singing careers.

Zayn Malik, who is another of Styles’ former band member, performed the latest rendition to Aladin 2019’s A Whole New World along with Zhavia.

Quite interestingly for Styles, however, is that he also ventured into the realm of acting with his debut in Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s World War II drama that grossed over $526 million worldwide and earned several Oscars awards.

The budding actor had been rumored to have been looking for a new acting bit for quite some time now after his success in Dunkirk and even auditioned for the lead in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic. That part went to Austin Butler earlier this week.

Nevertheless, the British singer and actor have captivated his fans through his talented singing career and charismatic acting on the big screen (all on top of his prince charming good looks) that quickly convinced people on Twitter that he would be an excellent Prince Eric.

LMFAO ok if harry styles is cast in a live action of the little mermaid I apologize to everyone in the theater who’s going to have to hear me groan every five minutes muttering “he’s so hot”

— brandy (@brandaliine) July 16, 2019

GIVE HARRY STYLES THAT DAMN ROLE I DESERVE TO SEE THAT

— rabia (@sincerelyrabia) July 16, 2019

In contrast, in the 1989 original animated movie, Prince Eric voiced then by Christopher Daniel Barnes, didn’t have any musical moments. Prince Eric was the man Ariel decided to fall love in first sight with after saving him from drowning.

Furthermore, he was simply Ariel’s prince charming who she deliberately bargained her excellent voice and tale with Ursula in exchange for legs to meet and spend time. However, the prince does make a key role in defeating Ursula in the end.

Related: Will Melissa McCarthy Play Ursula In ‘The Little Mermaid’ Live Re-Make?

Styles’ imminent casting for the role says otherwise for how Prince Eric will be seen in the upcoming live-action remake. Primarily, Disney has already announced its cast for Ariel with Halle Bailey, who’s a protege of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as a member of R&B duo Chloe x Halle.

In other words, Disney is seemingly taking a more musical-focused direction with The Little Mermaid soon. Add that to the fact that Disney’s favorite musical genius will again lead the musical scores in The Little Mermaid, Alan Menken, who has produced some of the classics such as Be Our GuestBelle from Beauty and the Beast (1991), A Whole New World, and Friend Like Me from Aladdin (1992).

Recently, Menken collaborated on the remakes live-action songs. Reportedly, he will also give new twists with his songs for The Little Mermaid live-action movie such as Oscar-winning Under the SeaPart of Your World, and Kiss the Girl.

Also, helping Menken with the songs (and probably new songs) is Lin-Manuel Miranda and La La Land producer Marc Platt.

There is a significant possibility that Prince Eric finally gets to sing in the live remake version and who knows, Menken might probably make new songs to suit the singing Prince Eric-Ariel tandem.

Can’t wait to hear the soundtrack for #TheLittleMermaid if @Harry_Styles styles is casted as Prince Eric and confirmed Ariel @HalleBailey it’s gonna be amazing pic.twitter.com/eqLp1l9XKk

— princess 👑💋 (@princesspucker) July 16, 2019

I’m personally not a fan of the Disney remakes but the thought of seeing halle bailey and harry styles together as ariel and eric makes me so fucking excited 

— Madisen (@frenchietoth) July 16, 2019

Rob Marshall will be taking the helm of the live-action movie as the director. The director is not new to working with Walt Disney Studios movies as he also directed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Into the Woods. Meanwhile, David Magee wrote the latest script for the reboot after Jane Goldman.

The Little Mermaid live-action movie follows after Disney’s latest move with other classics such as the recently-released AladdinBeauty and the Beast, Dumbo, and most recently, The Lion King which stars Donald Glover as Simba and Beyoncé as Nala.

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