A&E

Summer's kick-off concert

LIVE 105's BFD features big names, local bands

While Memorial Day is widely accepted as the unofficial start of summer, Bay Area concert-goers -- and specifically modern rock fans -- are more likely to celebrate at LIVE 105's BFD festival on Saturday, June 6.

"LIVE 105's BFD has become the unofficial kick-off concert for the summer season," said Aaron Siuda, Vice President of Live Nation Northern California. Concert producer and promoter Live Nation partners with San Francisco-based radio station Live 105 on the annual 12-hour event.

Most of the attention will go to the Main Stage headliners. American indie rockers Modest Mouse released their sixth album, 'Strangers to Ourselves,' in mid-March, while Icelandic folk-pop practitioners Of Monsters and Men is likely to showcase songs off its long-anticipated sophomore album, 'Beneath the Skin,' which will be released June 9. Dance rock outfit Panic! at the Disco, melodic poly-stylistic practitioners Cold War Kids and hard-driving Australian brother band Atlas Genius round out the main-stage lineup.

But BFD has done a thorough job with its curation of other spaces, including the Bud Light Festival Stage, the Local Band Stage and Bud Light Subsonic Tent.

"Think about all of the major acts that started on the side stages of BFD over the last 20 years: The Killers, Incubus and Death Cab For Cutie," noted Siuda. "When you can get that much talent on one show, it becomes more about the overall event than a single artist on the lineup. And that's why the show is consistently so popular."

Among the acts gracing the Festival stage are twenty one pilots, Death from Above 1979 and Best Coast, all of whom have headlined or will soon be doing their own shows at venues such as the Fox Oakland Theatre and the Fillmore and The Independent in San Francisco.

The French producer/DJ Martin Solveig, rapper/producer/Stanford alumna K.Flay and The Limousines from San Jose have scheduled sets at the Subsonic Tent. And an undetermined-at-press-time competition winner will open up the Local Band stage.

One highly buzzed-about band will be doing a sort of homecoming performance on the Festival Stage. Cathedrals vocalist/co-songwriter Brodie Jenkins and multi-instrumentalist/co-songwriter Johnny Hwin are also both Stanford grads who met not on The Farm but in San Francisco, where their duo is based.

She was a creative writing major who wrote for the Stanford Daily; he got his bachelor's degree in psychology and his master's in management science and engineering.

"We overlapped at Stanford -- Johnny's two years older than me," explained Jenkins, a Sebastopol native. "We had a bunch of the same friends but somehow never crossed paths."

Cathedrals released its debut track, "Unbound," on SoundCloud about a year ago and have since built up an enviable profile.

"Live 105 has been so supportive of us, specifically Aaron Axelsen, who has become an incredible friend to Cathedrals," Jenkins said of the station's music director/assistant program director who is also an on-air personality. "He's been playing us on Live 105 since we first started."

A member of The Jenkins (a mother-and-daughters country trio with mom Nancy and older sister Kacie) prior to reaching college, Jenkins remained involved with music during her undergraduate years. She sang in Maiden Lane ("a really fun rock band with a bunch of dudes") and the Stanford a cappella group, Talisman.

But she didn't have time to venture south to catch any previous BFDs. Aside from her on-campus extracurricular activities, "I was just buried in books the whole time," she admitted with an animated laugh.

After graduating, Jenkins continued to pursue music on the side while taking on video game design jobs. "I really liked it," she said of the work. "It's a really chill gig, and I got to be creative."

Jenkins and Hwin, who hails from the East Bay, were both between musical projects when a mutual friend from Stanford introduced them via email, listing the many things they had in common, including the kind of music they'd made and even the fact that they used the same Tumblr profile layout.

"We ended up meeting about a week later, both of us feeling a little skeptical about what the outcome would be," Jenkins admitted. "And we ended up writing a song in the first hour."

Creating a noirish sound that utilizes techno-pop instrumentation at times and dark rock guitars and drums at others, Cathedrals has developed very publicly and communally through social media and a network of artisans. Its Facebook page is updated regularly, and so far every song has been uploaded for free soon after completion.

"Honestly, I think nowadays you have to take that approach if you're an independent musician," Jenkins said. "We're not trying to make music in a box. So as far as getting it out there and sharing it, you kind of have to treat it like a (tech company's launch) and really put all your effort into it.

"There's so much music out there, and it's just so oversaturated," she added. "At the same time, the Internet is an incredibly wonderful and powerful tool that can spread your music across so many platforms if utilized correctly."

Featuring bass guitarist/keyboardist Jonathan Herrera and drummer Mitchell Wilcox in live settings (and increasingly in the studio, too), Cathedrals currently has an EP's worth of material and is recording a full album that's scheduled for release next year.

The pair's complimentary personalities have helped the group as a business as well as a creative outlet. "Johnny has always been an entrepreneur," Jenkins said. "Though we're both creative people, he was able to apply small business tactics and start-up approaches to our band."

Hwin is also a community organizer involved with The SUB, a San Francisco-based creative collective started in a warehouse in The Mission. "It's a place innovators, artists and musicians hang out," Jenkins explained.

The good news that places like The SUB can still thrive despite today's tech-driven rents isn't lost on the former member of the software industry. "San Francisco and the Bay Area are going through a huge change, and not all of that change is good," Jenkins noted. "But there are still some incredibly brilliant people in the city, and The SUB draws people together and gets them talking and creating and working together."

Cathedrals has enmeshed itself with The SUB, as evidenced by the ambitious debut video for "Unbound."

"It was absolutely huge, a collaboration between a bunch of people from The SUB as well as friends and other artists," Jenkins said of the shoot. "We also had Maria Kochetkova, who is a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet, perform. She was just incredible and so amazing to do that with us.

Unlike some duos with defined songwriting duties -- singer writes the lyrics, the other half programs and plays on the tracks -- Cathedrals is a fluid musical partnership. "I just feel like you can't allocate roles," Jenkins explained. "Our songwriting process can be so different with each song. 'Want My Love,' for instance: One day I just wrote the entire song a cappella in the shower." After recording a scratch vocal and a basic piano line, she sent it over to Hwin who then created an arrangement.

"A very similar (thing) happened with 'Unbound,'" she added. "Johnny was playing it on the acoustic guitar, and it was mostly lyrically finished when he sent it over to me. I stepped in and changed up the lyrics and the melody lines, and together we produced it to this dreamy landscape."

After participating in the famed Treasure Island Music Festival and selling out two nights at The Independent, Cathedrals recently had a unique and memorable performance opportunity that beautifully suited its artistic sensibilities -- a twilight concert at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

"That wasn't planned at all," Jenkins noted. "They reached out to us, and we said, 'Hell, yes! We will do that!' It fit perfectly with everything we love.

"We got there really early, so we got to walk around the grounds. And we started playing just as the sun was setting," she recalled.

"It had that really kind of golden light turning into darkness -- very 'Cathedrals' in my mind, as far as our aesthetic goes!"

What: Live 105 BFD 2015

Where: Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View

When: Saturday, June 6, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Cost: $37.50-$69.50

Info: Go to live105.cbslocal.com or livenation.com.

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